Croatia's Kukuriku coalition in flux

04/12/2012

Analysts and citizens say the coalition will hold, but is not addressing the issues it was elected to tackle.

By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Zagreb -- 04/12/12

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Three ministers have resigned since the government was formed by the four-party Kukuriku coalition last year. [AFP]

A disagreement in Croatia's ruling Kukuriku coalition on whether to institute a new property tax come April has indicated the coalition is in crisis and prompted questions over whether it will survive, according to analysts.

The Croatian People's Party (HNS) together with the two smaller parties -- the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) and the Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) -- oppose coalition leader Social Democratic Party's (SDP) intent to introduce the controversial tax for all citizens who own any kind of property.

Many said they believe Radimir Cacic, president of the HNS, is orchestrating the coalition crisis.

"A conflict about the law of tax property is an indicator of a serious crisis in the government. At this point I can only speculate whether Radimir Cacic is behind the conflict," President Ivo Josipovic told Dnevnik.hr.

Cacic resigned in mid-November after a Hungarian court sentenced him to 22 months in jail for causing a fatal car crash in 2010, in which two people died. He is the third minister to have resigned since the coalition formed the government in 2011.

Coalition representatives denied there is a conflict among the party leaders or a government political crisis.

"The disagreement about the property tax does not automatically mean a conflict inside the coalition, but an attempt to reach an agreement. If we are in a coalition does not mean we are joined together in one party and all think the same," Boris Blazekovic, MP from the HNS party, told SETimes.

Blazekovic said Cacic's resignation will not diminish the government's work, but will certainly change it.

"The government still has a lot of work that must be systematically carried out regardless of who came and went from its ranks," he said.

Analysts argued the crisis in the governing coalition is an attempt to deflect public attention from the pressing issues and the coalition will hold.

"Cacic left the government and still wants to remain on the political scene. It is also suggested these days HNS will leave the coalition. A technical government will be a good solution, but this will not happen because power is too sweet for them," Davorka Budimir, vice president of the Croatian Political Science Association, told SETimes.

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Croatia's opposition used the opportunity to highlight the government is caught in a crisis of ideas and solutions.

"They showed they have absolutely no plan on how to rule Croatia. Such a plan could have been brought a long time ago, because the coalition was in the opposition for years," Drazen Bosnjakovic, HDZ’s deputy in the Croatian parliament, told SETimes.

Many residents seem to share the view the government is distracted and not addressing the problems it was elected to tackle.

"As soon as they begin to deal with themselves rather than us, citizens, it is clear how the situation will end. Now it is more important [to the coalition leaders] who will replace Cacic or whether the coalition will fall apart, rather than we should have the money to pay taxes which increase every day. This kind of behaviour will be punished in the next elections," Gordana Vukmirica, 37, a Zagreb resident, told SETimes.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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