Will Vukovar Anniversary Commemorations Influence the Results of the Parliamentary Elections?

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Will there be a Vukovar effect on the parliamentary elections? 

The possible dates for the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Croatia are unofficially known. According to a senior government source, president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will choose between November 29, December 6 and December 13. It is interesting that all the proposed dates are very close to the day of remembrance for the victims of Vukovar on November 18. In the recent years, the commemorations have always brought heightened tensions. Two separate commemorative marches, split between the official authorities and Vukovar veterans, serious allegations and controversies, and lately the issue of Cyrillic alphabet, these are all issues which make that day even sadder and more painful, reports Slobodna Dalmacija on August 29, 2015.

Undoubtedly, the politicians will not hesitate to try to benefit from the events and gain the support of voters, but it is hard to predict which political block could be helped more by the possible events in Vukovar.

After the riots at St. Mark’s Square in Zagreb during the veterans’ protests, there was a sort of counter-effect which has increased the popularity of the ruling left coalition led by prime minister Zoran Milanović, while the Homeland Thanksgiving Day and celebrations in Knin increased the support for the right Patriotic Coalition. Political analysts agree that it is impossible to determine who will win votes from the events in Vukovar, because we do not know what to expect at this year’s anniversary.

“Vukovar will be a major test for HDZ, which must show to what extent it can control Vukovar veterans and its informal coalition partners, such as some veterans’ associations. HDZ hopes to avoid major incidents, because that would be an opportunity for Milanović to say ‘you can see now who could come to power and who supports extreme situations’. It could prompt some of the left voters to go to the polls”, says political scientist Berto Šalaj, who does not expect radicalization.

On the other hand, Vukovar could be a chance for HDZ to mobilize its voters, and is very difficult to distinguish who could profit more. “If there are two commemorative marches, that could benefit both sides, but if there is one united march, SDP would gain more. Zoran Milanović could show that he has managed to consolidate the situation, and that the Croatian society is better organized than ever before”, said Anđelko Milardović, head of the Centre for Political Research. However, he says that no block should celebrate in advance.

While there is no indication what will happen at the Vukovar anniversary this year, well-informed sources claim that veterans in Vukovar are not too thrilled with either SDP or HDZ. They are still demanding that Vukovar must be declared an area of special respect for victims. They have also been expecting more initiative in that respect from president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, but she has still not done anything to fulfil their expectations.


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