Since 1964, I participated in the political campaigns on the local, state and federal levels. Furthermore, I had the honor of been elected to the school board in my community from 1980 to 1988, and when we went to Croatia last December, I was eager to immerse myself in the presidential campaigns there. I did that with deep gratitude to the men and women who defended Croatia from Serbian aggression. Their courage and sacrifices made my beloved native land a free and sovereign country, thus gifting me with the opportunity and honor to take part in the political process.
Less than fifty percent of the Croatian electorate went to the polls during the last presidential elections, so a relatively small number of people in Croatia reelected Stipe Mesic as their President. Those who voted for him deserve him. In my eyes, he seems inept, immoral, corrupt and unworthy to represent Croatia I feel the same way about many other politicians in Croatia as well
Having spent December and most of January in Zagreb, my observations are of close and personal nature. Not only did I closely watch the unfolding of the campaign through the media, I also volunteered in the campaign of Boris Miksic. My work consisted of addressing envelopes, calling voters and assembling campaign material in his headquarters. I also lobbied my friends and relatives in Croatia.
Mr. Miksic's victory would have assured Croatia's move toward a more promising tomorrow. I firmly believe that it was love, care and concern for Croatia, and not the lust for power and prestige, that inspired Mr. Miksic to enter the presidential race. Furthermore, Mr. Miksic does not have ties to corruption, party loyalty or paybacks of any kind. With his superior hard work ethic, he would have been an excellent role model, a source of inspiration and hope. His respect and appreciation for Croatia's hard, achieved sovereignty, and desire to diligently work on finding solution of desperate economic conditions should have been enough to have him elected as Croatia's president. However, he was not elected because the entire power establishment was afraid of him. Both Mesic and HDZ at first dismissed his candidacy in a manner reminiscent of old communist arrogance. When they realized that he was gaining momentum, he was denied the access to media, and dirty tactics were used against him.
On the other hand, Boris Miksic made a number of mistakes. First, his campaign should have started with full force earlier than it did. Second, he should have selected much larger team of people experienced in the planning and implementing the strategy of the campaign. Large number of Croatian Americans would have been eager to volunteer for him. As many in Croatian Diaspora, Miksic holds idealistic perceptions and expectations about Croatia and that led him to underestimate the deviousness of his opposition and unwillingness of some to accept an outsider.
Media access was denied to other candidates as well. Some of them did not have a chance to begin with. I would like to see some of them try for a political office again. First, I would very much like to see Boris Miksic as a mayor of Zagred or a representative in the Sabor. Second, I would like to see Ivic Pasalic, Ljubo Cesic Rojs and Anto Kovacevic in some type of political offices.
The entire presidential campaign was not fair to begin with. A fair campaign would not have been deliberately planned during the holiday season. A fair campaign would have been preceded by a primary election several months earlier. A fair campaign would have ensured equal access to media for all candidates.
Speculations of agreement between Mesic and HDZ are not as ludicrous now as they seemed at the beginning of the campaign. At least some questions remain unanswered: Why did HDZ come out with a weak candidate? Why was Jadranka Kosor reluctant to address Mesic’s miserable record as president? Other areas of Mesic’s political activities provided plenty of ammunition. For instance, he opposed the use of Croatian language early in his political career in 1967. He brazenly opened national secret records to foreign journalist. The sources of money for his first campaign remain mysterious and the media ignored the fact that Mesic lied about his wife’s heritage! On the other hand, an all out lynching of Boris Miksic did not cease even after he lost.
Croatia deserves leaders with integrity, national spirituality and cultural values, on all levels of political life, and yes, Croatia has people endowed with such qualities. It is time for them to embrace political challenges and accept responsibilities with pride and determination. The presidential elections in Croatia are over. Unfortunately the waves of distaste and disappointment linger, but fortunately, so does my hope for Croatia’s better tomorrows.
Ivanka Kuzmanovic, Greendale, WI