Krešimir Macan Analyzes Latest Political Events

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Prominent PR expert comments on election campaign.

Krešimir Macan, a prominent Croatian PR professional specialized in crisis management, strategic communications and political analysis, gave an interview today to in which he discussed current political situation and presented his expectations ahead of parliamentary elections to be held on 11 September.

What will be the consequences of secretly recorded meeting between SDP president Zoran Milanović and veterans’ representatives?

It is impossible to know whether the recordings will help or hurt Milanović. Looking at social networks and the media, more educated people condemn Milanović, while people who have a high-school degree or lees mainly agree with his positions, just not with the way and context in which he said it. Faced with the recordings, Milanović did the best he could in the given situation. He was not the one who released these recordings, but it is possible that he has profited somewhat with less educated voters. Yesterday, Plenković said that the topic had been closed as far as he is concerned, which means that in the last 13 days of the campaign they can open some other topics. For example, MOST said they would announce guarantees they will demand from those parties which want to enter into a postelection coalition with them.

Plenković said on Sunday that he could forgive Milanović that he talked about his mother, but that he could not forget it?

Plenković is trying to attract voters by being a calm person and with his new discourse. Milanović has moved to the right almost as far as Karamarko used to be. The problem for Plenković is that he might appear to be too calm, and people might think that his moderate approach actually shows a lack of energy on his part.

Milanović is now accusing Plenković of spending too much time in Brussels, which is the same tactic that was until recently used by HDZ against Milanović himself?

Milanović is using HDZ’s words to demonstrate that such accusations against him were completely misplaced, because they can now be used against HDZ president. Milanović is quite arrogant, which might bring him some votes, while Plenković is similar to former President Ivo Josipović who was considered to be too calm.

Support for MOST has fallen drastically, it has been almost cut in half?

MOST has fallen drastically compared with last year’s election, but it has recovered a bit after the collapse of the government. They can expect to win between 10 and 12 seats in Parliament. Left-wing voters have abandoned them, so MOST has moved to the right. You can see that in the eighth parliamentary constituency. Also, in Slavonia, they have strong competition in HDZ and regional party HDSSB, but they might retain their support in Dalmatia. The key for the elections will be four constituencies which include parts of Zagreb. It is understandable that after a coalition with HDZ and bad results of the government some voters are disappointed with MOST, particularly since they did not argue with HDZ regarding the curricular reform and some other ideological issues, which shows that they are ideologically similar to HDZ. MOST is trying to do what it can during the campaign, but they do not have money, just like other parties also do not have money, which means that the media has a decisive role. And Milanović and Plenković have been dominating the media for the last four days, which limits exposure for MOST. If something occurs in which they do not have a role, their support automatically declines. They are trying to demonstrate that they are consistent, so they have talked about the scandal concerning Constitutional Court member Mlakar and State Election Commission member Vresk, and they have filed a criminal complaint against Vesna Pusić.

Talking about Milanović’s statements, MOST president Božo Petrov said that the message was clear, but that the way he said it was wrong?

The majority of his voters and he personally probably agree with Milanović, but not with the way it was said. He is afraid that some of his voters might now vote for Milanović.

One of the issues in the campaign is tax reform?

That is one of the topics which is very hard for voters to understand. Comprehensive tax reform is better than just changing VAT rate, because it can be felt on people’s salaries. That is what Milanović did while he was in government, which resulted in an increase in personal spending. VAT rate is among the highest in Europe and should be lowered to create a better business climate, but that is a long-term issue which voters will not feel directly.

Is there a topic which is being avoided by political parties?

Parties have been avoiding real issues concerning worldview. Milanović tried to go there, but did not succeed. For example, the issue of abortion. Here, MOST is somewhat more liberal than HDZ, but is still on the right, while Milanović is pro-choice. These are real worldview questions, but we cannot hear politicians discussing them. The only issues being discussed are those concerning the Second World War. The whole region is now talking about who is a better Croat or a better Serb, but it is questionable how much will anyone remember that. When former Yugoslav secret service leaders were recently convicted in Germany, people said that would destroy SDP, but now no one even remembers that. Parties have to find something to distinguish them from other parties.


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