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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03ZAGREB803
2003-04-11 11:57:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

CROATIA ELECTIONS: RACAN'S SDP NEEDS TO TURN IT

Tags:   PGOV  EAID  HR 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 ZAGREB 000803 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE (NARDI)
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USAID - EE/ECA (CONVERY)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2013
TAGS: PGOV EAID EAID EAID EAID HR HRPGOV
SUBJECT: CROATIA ELECTIONS: RACAN'S SDP NEEDS TO TURN IT
AROUND
CONFIDENTIAL


PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00803 01 OF 04 111156Z

CLASSIFIED BY: POLOFF A.F.GODFREY FOR REASONS 1.5 (B,D)

SUMMARY
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 ZAGREB 000803

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE (NARDI)
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USAID - EE/ECA (CONVERY)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2013
TAGS: PGOV EAID EAID EAID EAID HR HRPGOV
SUBJECT: CROATIA ELECTIONS: RACAN'S SDP NEEDS TO TURN IT
AROUND
CONFIDENTIAL


PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00803 01 OF 04 111156Z

CLASSIFIED BY: POLOFF A.F.GODFREY FOR REASONS 1.5 (B,D)

SUMMARY
--------------


1. (C) THE UNOFFICIAL STARTING GUN FOR THE NEXT
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION HAS GONE OFF, BUT PM RACAN'S
COALITION-LEADING SDP IS STALLED AT THE START. A NEW
USAID-SPONSORED IRI POLL SHOWS THAT ONLY 13 PERCENT OF VOTERS
NOW PLAN TO CAST THEIR BALLOTS FOR THE SDP. VOTER
DISSATISFACTION WITH THE GOVERNMENT IS AT 68 PERCENT,
ESSENTIALLY THE SAME LEVEL IT WAS WITH THE LAST GOVERNMENT IN
1999 AFTER A DECADE OF WAR AND HDZ MISRULE HAD BROUGHT
CROATIA TO ECONOMIC RUIN AND INTERNATIONAL ISOLATION. THE
SDP'S FOUR SMALLER COALITION PARTNERS HAVE BEGUN TO PREPARE
THEMSELVES FOR THE ELECTION, AND OPPOSITION PARTIES ALREADY
HAVE THEIR CAMPAIGN BILLBOARDS OUT. THE SDP, HOWEVER, IS IN
DISARRAY, AND RACAN FACES DISSENT WITHIN HIS OWN PARTY FROM
BOTH THE LEFT AND THE RIGHT.


2. (C) IRI POLLSTERS SAY THAT IF THE SDP CAN TURN THINGS
AROUND, A COALITION WHICH EXCLUDES THE STILL-UNRECONSTRUCTED
HDZ CAN WIN IN ELECTIONS THIS AUTUMN. THE INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITY AND CROATIAN VOTERS ARE RIGHT TO BE DISAPPOINTED BY
THE OPPORTUNITIES MISSED BY THE RACAN GOVERNMENT, BUT THERE
HAVE BEEN SOME IMPORTANT POSITIVE CHANGES. FOR ALL THEIR
PERSONAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL FAILINGS, THE PARTIES WHICH MAKE
UP THIS GOVERNMENT ARE IN THE EUROPEAN MAINSTREAM. ON ISSUES
OF MOST CONCERN TO US BUT (REGRETABLY) NOT TO THE TYPICAL
CROATIAN VOTER, THEIR PERFORMANCE IS VARIED: LITTLE PROGRESS
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00803 01 OF 04 111156Z
OR COMMITMENT ON REFUGEE RETURNS, UNEVEN COOPERATION WITH
ICTY, AND GOOD NEIGHBORLY RELATIONS HAVE BEEN BUILT. THESE
LEVELS WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED UNDER AN HDZ GOVERNMENT
BECAUSE ITS MANY OF ITS LEADING FIGURES AND CONSTITUENTS ARE

FUNDAMENTALLY OPPOSED TO BUILDING AN OPEN, INCLUSIVE CROATIA.


3. (C) AS MUCH AS WE REGRET RACAN'S LACK OF LEADERSHIP,
THERE IS AS YET NO ALTERNATIVE TO A COALITION INCLUDING THE
SDP THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE THE FUNDAMENTALLY UNDEMOCRATIC HDZ.
UNLESS THE SDP CAN GET BACK ON ITS FEET, SUCH A COALITION
MAY NOT PREVAIL AT THE POLLS IN OCTOBER. END SUMMARY.

IRI POLL SERVES AS ELECTION STARTING GUN
--------------


4. (C) CROATIA'S NEXT PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION MUST TAKE PLACE
BEFORE APRIL 2004, BUT THE COALITION HAS ALL BUT FORMALLY
ANNOUNCED ELECTIONS FOR OCTOBER 2003. THE THREE LARGEST
PARTIES OF THE FIVE-PARTY COALITION WHICH MAKE UP THE
COALITION LED BY PM RACAN'S SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY (SDP)
HAVE ALL ANNOUNCED THAT THEY WILL NOT JOIN A PRE-ELECTION
COALITION. A USAID-SPONSORED IRI POLL COMPLETED ON MARCH 25
SHOWS THAT THE SDP STILL LEADS THE COALITION, BUT HAS THE
SUPPORT OF ONLY 13 PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID THEY WOULD
TAKE PART IN ELECTIONS, DOWN FROM 23 PERCENT IN JUNE 2001,
BELOW THE OPPOSITION HDZ (22 PERCENT) AND FAR BEHIND THOSE
WHO SAID THEY WOULD VOTE BUT HAVE NOT MADE UP THEIR MINDS (29
PERCENT).

VOTER DISSATISFACTION NEAR ALL-TIME HIGH
--------------
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00803 01 OF 04 111156Z


5. (C) ONE OF THE MOST STARTLING RESULTS FROM THE IRI POLL
(CONDUCTED BY PULS, CROATIA'S LEADING PUBLIC-OPINION FIRM) IS
THAT ONLY 22 PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS THINK THAT CROATIA IS
HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, DOWN FROM A PEAK OF 57
PERCENT AFTER THE COALITION TOOK OFFICE IN JANUARY 2000.
FULLY 68 PERCENT SAID THAT CROATIA IS BEING LED IN THE WRONG
DIRECTION, VERY CLOSE TO THE LEVEL OF VOTER DISSATISFACTION
IN 1999, AFTER NEARLY A DECADE OF WAR AND HDZ MISRULE. THE
POLL SHOWS THAT 73 PERCENT OF CROATIANS BELIEVE THAT THE SDP
IS MOST RESPONSIBLE IN THE COALITION FOR GOC POLICY. THREE
TIMES AS MANY RESPONDENTS BELIEVE THE SDP IS RESPONSIBLE FOR
SQUABBLES IN THE COALITION THAN THE SDP, AND 55 PERCENT
EITHER THOUGHT THE GOVERNMENT HAD DONE NOTHING GOOD DURING
ITS TENURE OR COULD NOT POINT TO A SINGLE POSITIVE
ACCOMPLISHMENT.

IRI: COALITION "SURVIVABLE"
--------------


6. (C) NEVERTHELESS, IRI POLLSTERS SAID THE COALITION IN ITS
CURRENT FORM IS "SURVIVABLE," PROVIDED THE SDP COULD GET ITS
RATING UP TO 20 PERCENT. THEY LAID OUT A STRATEGY -- WHICH
THEY LATER PITCHED TO ALL COALITION PARTIES -- WHERE THE

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ9232

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00803 02 OF 04 111156Z
ACTION EUR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AGRE-00 AID-00 CIAE-00 INL-00
DODE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 FBIE-00 VC-00 TEDE-00
INR-00 LAB-01 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00
OMB-02 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00
SCT-00 SP-00 SSO-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 R-00 EPAE-00
IIP-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01 G-00 NFAT-00
SAS-00 SWCI-00 /006W
-------------- 54417B 111156Z /38
P 111157Z APR 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9936
INFO AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY
USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY
USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 04 ZAGREB 000803

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE (NARDI)
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USAID - EE/ECA (CONVERY)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2013
TAGS: PGOV EAID EAID EAID EAID HR HRPGOV
SUBJECT: CROATIA ELECTIONS: RACAN'S SDP NEEDS TO TURN IT
AROUND
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00803 02 OF 04 111156Z

GOVERNMENT SHOULD FIRST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR NOT LIVING UP
TO VOTER EXPECTATIONS AND THEN GET THE MESSAGE OUT ON THINGS
THEY HAVE DONE, ESPECIALLY ON JOB CREATION AND IN BRINGING
CROATIA'S TOURIST INDUSTRY BACK TO LIFE.

SDP GETS THE BAD NEWS
--------------


7. (C) WE MET WITH SDP SECRETARY GENERAL IGOR DRAGOVAN, WHO
ATTENDED IRI'S PRESENTATION OF THE POLL RESULTS TO HIS PARTY.
PM RACAN (PRESIDENT OF THE SDP) WAS NOT AVAILABLE, BUT KEY
SENIOR LEADERS WERE PRESENT, INCLUDING DEPUTY PM/DEFENSE
MINISTER ANTUNOVIC, LABOR MINISTER VIDOVIC AND INTERIOR
MINISTER LUCIN. AFTER A BRIEF GRIPE ABOUT A LEAK TO THE
PRESS BY ANOTHER PARTY OF THE POLL'S UNFAVORABLE SHOWING OF
THE SDP, DRAGOVAN EXPRESSED APPRECIATION FOR THE OPPORTUNITY
TO BE ABLE TO SHAPE HIS PARTY'S MESSAGE IN TIME TO GET
RESULTS.


8. (C) DRAGOVAN WAS DISCOURAGED, BUT NOT SURPRISED, BY THE
FACT THAT VOTERS DON'T KNOW ANY OF THE COALITION'S
ACCOMPLISHMENTS. DRAGOVAN AGREED WITH IRI'S CRITICISM THAT
PM RACAN'S INABILITY TO TAKE CREDIT FOR PROGRESS ON THE
ECONOMY IS COMPOUNDED BY HIS UNWILLINGNESS TO DEVELOP A
PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS STAFF. THE ONE POLL RESULT THAT
CAUGHT HIM BY SURPRISE WAS THAT VOTERS BELIEVE THE SDP IS
RESPONSIBLE FOR MOST OF THE SQUABBLES BETWEEN COALITION
PARTNERS. DRAGOVAN INSISTED THAT THE CROATIAN PEASANT'S
PARTY (HSS) HAS BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR ALMOST ALL OF THE
CONFLICTS.
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00803 02 OF 04 111156Z

RACAN WANTS TO RUN ON HIS RECORD
--------------


9. (C) DESPITE THE SDP'S CURRENT STANDING, DRAGOVAN IS
OPTIMISTIC AND CLAIMS THE SDP HAS A PLAN TO GET OUT THE WORD.
HE GAVE US A COPY OF A BOOKLET THE SDP IS ISSUING TO ALL
PARTY MEMBERS TO GIVE THEM CONCRETE FACTS TO REFUTE
ALLEGATIONS ABOUT THE COALITION'S INACTION. THE LIST OF
ACCOMPLISHMENTS IS IMPRESSIVE, ESPECIALLY WHEN COMPARED WITH
THE PRECEDING HDZ GOVERNMENT'S FAILURE. THERE ARE "TALKING
POINTS" FOR SDP RANK-AND-FILE ON ALL SUBJECT AREAS, BUT
DRAGOVAN BELIEVES THE BOOKLET'S FRAMING OF THE GOC'S TRACK
RECORD ON THE ECONOMY WILL BE MOST CONVINCING. STATISTICS
CITED IN THE SDP'S "WHAT WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED" BOOKLET
INCLUDE:

- STEADY, IMPRESSIVE GROWTH IN GDP, FROM -0.4 PERCENT IN 1999
TO 5.2 PERCENT IN 2002;
- PER CAPITA GDP IS NOW 5,150 EURO, AHEAD OF NINE EU
CANDIDATE COUNTRIES;
- INFLATION DOWN STEADILY:
- RETIREMENT OF MOST OF THE HDZ-ERA DEBT;
- 3.2 BILLION DOLLARS IN FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT:
- REDUCTION OF THE STATE BUDGET OUTLAYS;
- REDUCTION OF INTEREST RATES FOR CONSUMER CREDIT;
- IMPROVING THE PERFORMANCE OF STATE OWNED ENTERPRISES;
- INCREASING THE REAL WAGES OF THE AVERAGE WORKER; AND
- REDUCING UNEMPLOYMENT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 20 YEARS.


10. (C) DRAGOVAN TOLD US THAT THE SDP'S WAR CHEST IS FULL
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PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00803 02 OF 04 111156Z
AND THEY PLAN TO ROLL OUT ADS THIS SUMMER TAKING CREDIT FOR
THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. HE WAS FRUSTRATED THAT THE SDP'S
SMALLER COALITION PARTNER HNS HAS BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH
PROGRESS TOWARD COMPLETING THE ZAGREB-SPLIT HIGHWAY, WHICH
VOTERS CITE AS ONE OF THE FEW ACHIEVEMENTS OF THIS GOVERNMENT
(EVEN THOUGH THE HIGHWAY WILL NOT BE COMPLETED BEFORE
ELECTIONS).

DISSENT WITHIN THE SDP
--------------


11. (C) IN ADDITION TO THE PROBLEM OF GETTING HIS MESSAGE
OUT, RACAN FACES OPEN DISSENT FROM WITHIN HIS OWN PARTY'S
RANKS. ON APRIL 2, SDP MP ZLATKO SESELJ QUIT THE PARLIAMENT,
RETURNING HIS MANDATE TO THE SDP. SESELJ TOLD THE PRESS THAT
HE IS FED UP THAT HIS PARTY HAS CONSISTENTLY BACKED DOWN IN
THE FACE OF PRESSURE FROM THE HSS. THE LAST STRAW IN
SESELJ'S CASE WAS THE SDP AGREEING TO APPROVE THE HSS
EDUCATION MINISTER'S PROPOSED HIGH SCHOOL TEXTBOOKS WHICH,
ACCORDING TO SESELJ "ARE NOT WORTH THE PAPER THEY'RE PRINTED
ON." SESELJ, A CAREER EDUCATOR AND OWNER OF A PRIVATE HIGH
SCHOOL IN ZAGREB, SAID THAT THE HSS TEXTBOOK "PASSED BECAUSE
OF HSS PRESIDENT TOMCIC'S "BLACKMAIL."

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ9234

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00803 03 OF 04 111156Z
ACTION EUR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AGRE-00 AID-00 CIAE-00 INL-00
DODE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 FBIE-00 VC-00 TEDE-00
INR-00 LAB-01 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00
OMB-02 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00
SCT-00 SP-00 SSO-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 R-00 EPAE-00
IIP-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01 G-00 NFAT-00
SAS-00 SWCI-00 /006W
-------------- 54418B 111157Z /38
P 111157Z APR 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9937
INFO AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY
USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY
USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 03 OF 04 ZAGREB 000803

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE (NARDI)
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USAID - EE/ECA (CONVERY)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2013
TAGS: PGOV EAID EAID EAID EAID HR HRPGOV
SUBJECT: CROATIA ELECTIONS: RACAN'S SDP NEEDS TO TURN IT
AROUND
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00803 03 OF 04 111156Z


12. (C) ZDRAVKO TOMAC, CHAIR OF THE PARLIAMENT'S FOREIGN
AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, IS ACTIVELY SUBVERTING SOME OF HIS PARTY'S
TACTICS ON ELECTIONS. DRAGOVAN TOLD US THAT RACAN HAS BEEN
TRYING TO EASE TOMAC OUT THE DOOR FOR YEARS, BUT THE JOWLY,
CANTANKEROUS PROFESSOR JUST WON'T GO. FORMERLY A PARTY VICE
PRESIDENT, TOMAC IS NO LONGER EVEN A MEMBER OF THE SDP
CENTRAL COMMITTEE. DRAGOVAN TOLD US THAT RACAN TRIED TO GET
THE MESSAGE ACROSS BY FIRING TOMAC'S SISTER FROM A COMFY SPOT
AS ASSISTANT MINISTER OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, BUT TOMAC HANGS
ON, USING HIS COMMITTEE CHAIR AS A PULPIT FOR HIS OWN PET
POLICY: INSISTING THAT THE DAYTON AGREEMENT BE REVISED TO
CREATE A SEPARATE ENTITY FOR ETHNIC CROATS IN BIH. (NOTE:
EACH TIME TOMAC MAKES SUCH AN ANNOUNCEMENT, GOC AND SDP
OFFICIALS MAKE STATEMENTS DECLARING THAT TOMAC DOES NOT SPEAK
FOR EITHER THE PARTY OR THE GOVERNMENT.)


13. (C) WE AND MANY IN THE MEDIA THOUGHT TOMAC HAD FINALLY
CROSSED THE LINE WHEN AS A GUEST AT THE ANNUAL CONVENTION OF
THE MODERATE OPPOSITION PARTY DEMOCRATIC CENTER (DC), HE WAS
QUOTED AS SAYING HE WOULD SUPPORT DC PRESIDENT MATE GRANIC AS
A CANDIDATE FOR PRIME MINISTER. HOWEVER, RACAN'S ONLY
RESPONSE WAS TO REMARK THAT "TOMAC SEEMS TO BE DISTANCING
HIMSELF FROM THE SDP." DRAGOVAN TOLD US THAT RACAN SEEKS TO
AVOID THE APPEARANCE OF DISSENT WITHIN THE PARTY AND DOES NOT
WANT TO ALIENATE THE MORE CONSERVATIVE SDP VOTERS WHO
ASSOCIATE WITH TOMAC.

ELECTION-YEAR LEGISLATION?
--------------

CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00803 03 OF 04 111156Z

14. (C) ALTHOUGH IT IS LATE IN THE LEGISLATIVE SEASON FOR
NEW INITIATIVES, THE SDP IS TRYING TO GET THROUGH TWO MORE
"REFORMS" WHICH THEY HOPE WILL BE POPULAR WITH VOTERS. ONE
IS AN ELECTION-YEAR TAX REFORM, ANNOUNCED IN GENERAL TERMS ON
APRIL 7. THE SDP PROPOSES BROAD CUTS TO INCOME TAXES AND TO
OFFSET THE LOSS WITH INCREASES IN PROPERTY TAXES. THE OTHER
IS REFORM OF THE LABOR CODE, BUT THE SDP EFFORT SEEMS TO HAVE
RUN OUT OF STEAM. FOLLOWING A LONG STALEMATE, GOVERNMENT,
EMPLOYER, AND LABOR UNION NEGOTIATORS APPEARED TO BE ON TRACK
TO REACHING A COMPROMISE ON A NEW LABOR LAW. BUT ON APRIL 9,
LABOR LEADERS WALKED OUT OF NEGOTIATIONS, INSISTING THAT THE
GOC WAS NOT NEGOTIATING IN GOOD FAITH. ONE OBSERVER NOTED
THAT THE TIMING OF THE WALKOUT IS PREDICTABLE: UNIONS JUST
WANT TO GET THE BEST DEAL THEY CAN BEFORE THEIR TRADITIONAL
PROTEST ON MAY 1; IF THEY HELP BRING DOWN THE SDP, THEY ARE
UNLIKELY TO GET A BETTER DEAL FROM THE HDZ.

ELECTION LAW GAMBLE WOULD RELY ON AGREEMENT WITH BIH
-------------- --------------


15. (C) ON APRIL 3, THE CROATIAN PARLIAMENT PASSED TECHNICAL
CHANGES TO EXISTING ELECTION LAW WHEN COALITION PARTNERS
COULD NOT COME TO COMPROMISE ON A NEW ELECTORAL MODEL. THE
SABOR BROUGHT THE OLD LAW INTO LINE WITH THE NEW
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ON NATIONAL MINORITIES AND MADE SOME OTHER
IMPORTANT TECHNICAL CHANGES, BUT DID NOT ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF
DIASPORA VOTING. ALL CROATIAN CITIZENS, REGARDLESS OF WHERE
THEY RESIDE, STILL HAVE A RIGHT UNDER CROATIA'S CONSTITUTION,
TO VOTE IN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. IN THE LAST ELECTION,
HARD-LINE NATIONALIST CROATS FROM BOSNIA USED THIS TO ELECT
SIX MP'S ON THE HDZ SLATE.
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00803 03 OF 04 111156Z


16. (C) THE GOC IS COUNTING ON SIGNING A NEW BILATERAL
AGREEMENT ON DUAL CITIZENSHIP WITH BIH WHICH WOULD PREVENT
CROATS WHO VOTED IN BOSNIA FROM VOTING IN CROATIA. WHILE THE
MFA INFORMS US THAT NEGOTIATIONS ARE WELL ALONG, OTHER
OBSERVERS WARN US THAT THIS AGREEMENT COULD BE AT RISK IF BIH
DECIDES TO PLAY HARDBALL AND LINK THE DUAL CITIZENSHIP
AGREEMENT TO PROGRESS ON OTHER ISSUES. ONE SUCH ISSUE OF
GREAT IMPORTANCE TO BIH IS THE LONG-PENDING AGREEMENT ON THE
STATUS OF THE PORT OF PLOCE. BIH IS TO GAIN SPECIAL ACCESS
TO THE PORT IN EXCHANGE FOR FREE PASSAGE FOR TRAVELLERS
THROUGH THE NEUM CORRIDOR (A STRETCH OF THE ADRIATIC COAST,
PART OF BIH, WHICH SEPARATES CROATIA'S MAINLAND FROM THE
DUBROVNIK REGION). THE PARLIAMENT'S FOREIGN AFFAIRS
COMMITTEE -- AT THE URGING OF NONE OTHER THAN ZDRAVKO TOMAC
-- IS OPPOSING A GOC COMPROMISE ON AN AGREEMENT WITH BIH
REGARDING THE STATUS OF THE PORT OF PLOCE.

COMMENT
--------------


17. (C) WE WON'T TRY TO PREDICT THE OUTCOME OF ELECTIONS SO
FAR IN ADVANCE, BUT SIMPLE ARITHMETIC ALLOWS US TO MAKE TWO
PREDICTIONS CONFIDENTLY: NO SINGLE PARTY WILL BE ABLE TO FORM

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ9236

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00803 04 OF 04 111157Z
ACTION EUR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AGRE-00 AID-00 CIAE-00 INL-00
DODE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 FBIE-00 VC-00 TEDE-00
INR-00 LAB-01 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00
OMB-02 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00
SCT-00 SP-00 SSO-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 R-00 EPAE-00
IIP-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01 G-00 NFAT-00
SAS-00 SWCI-00 /006W
-------------- 544198 111157Z /38
P 111157Z APR 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9938
INFO AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY
USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY
USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 04 OF 04 ZAGREB 000803

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE (NARDI)
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USAID - EE/ECA (CONVERY)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2013
TAGS: PGOV EAID EAID EAID EAID HR HRPGOV
SUBJECT: CROATIA ELECTIONS: RACAN'S SDP NEEDS TO TURN IT
AROUND
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00803 04 OF 04 111157Z

A GOVERNMENT ON ITS OWN AND NO COALITION WHICH DOES NOT
INCLUDE EITHER THE HDZ OR THE SDP WILL BE ABLE TO GAIN MORE
THAN 50 PERCENT OF THE MP'S IN THE NEXT PARLIAMENT.


18. (C) LIKE THE RESPONDENTS TO THE IRI POLL, WE HAVE BEEN
DISAPPOINTED BY THE RACAN GOVERNMENT'S MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
AND BY HIS INDECISIVE LEADERSHIP STYLE, BUT AN HDZ GOVERNMENT
WOULD BE WORSE. DESPITE ITS NEW FACADE, AND WHILE IT MIGHT
MAKE THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME, THE HDZ REMAINS THE PARTY OF
EXCLUSIONARY ETHNIC NATIONALISTS. THEY WOULD OBSTRUCT THE
PROCESS OF ADDRESSING THE LEGACY OF ETHNIC WAR. AT SOME
POINT IN THE FUTURE -- BUT CERTAINLY NOT IN TIME FOR THIS
FALL'S ELECTIONS -- THE HDZ MAY CHANGE ENOUGH AT THE
FUNDAMENTAL LEVEL TO BE A USEFUL PARTNER FOR THE
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. AFTER ALL, FEW WHO SAW GEORGE
WALLACE IN 1963 COULD HAVE PREDICTED HE WOULD RENOUNCE HIS
SEGREGATIONIST VIEWS AND FIND SUPPORT 20 YEARS LATER AMONG
MORE PROGRESSIVE VOTERS. FOR NOW, THE PARTIES WHICH MAKE UP
THE CURRENT COALITION ARE MORE LIKELY TO MOVE FORWARD ON
POLICIES WHICH ADVANCE OUR GOALS FOR REGIONAL STABILITY, EVEN
IF THEY DO SO ONLY WHEN PRESSURED AND EVEN THEN ONLY
GRUDGINGLY.


19. (C) OUR USAID DEMOCRACY ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN
RAMPED UP IN THIS ELECTION YEAR TO HELP THE SDP AND ALL OTHER
REFORM-ORIENTED POLITICAL PARTIES IN CROATIA. IN ADDITION TO
PROFESSIONAL POLLING INFORMATION, WE ARE TRAINING PARTY
LEADERS AT ALL LEVELS, ORGANIZING FOCUS GROUPS, AND HELPING
PARTIES DEFINE HOW BEST TO TAILOR THEIR MESSAGES TO ACHIEVE
VOTER RESPONSE.
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00803 04 OF 04 111157Z
ROSSIN

CONFIDENTIAL

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