January 11, 2010
With over 60% of the votes cast in the second round of the election, Ivo Josipović, candidate of the Social democratic party is going to become Croatia’s third President. “Reason has won” are announcing some of the Croatian media tonight. Reason indeed. Many of the voters who cast their ballot today in favour of Mr. Josipović did so much less out of conviction that he was the best of all possible candidates, than out of fear that Milan Bandić could win.
During the two weeks that separated the first and second rounds of the election, Croats were sharply divided: for half of the country, including the vast majority urban voters and intellectuals, Bandić represented what they hoped to be politics past. Populism, corruption, a lack of good manners, ignorance of the “ways of the West” and a leadership system based on nepotism and corporatism led many to believe the Mayor of Zagreb should not represent Croatia in the international arena, least of all be the President under whose leadership the country would join the European Union. For the other half of the country, mostly composed of those on the conservative side of the political spectrum, many Catholics and senior citizens, Ivo Josipović embodied their greatest fear: the return to power of a “Communist”. For those who experienced directly the hardships, injustices and terror of the communist regime, the twenty years that have passed since its fall haven’t erased the memory of the ill-famed political police “UDBA”. They are still vulnerable to conspiracy theories that predict renewed “Balkan associations”, attempts to re-establish Yugoslavia in one way or another and to question the moral and political rightfulness of the fight for independence.
Mr. Josipovic’s comfortable victory tonight certainly allows him to begin his mandate with unquestionable legitimacy. Yet it also places a large responsibility on his shoulders: he will have to show the first half of Croatia that it was right in choosing the “reasonable” option, and that its political maturity will be rewarded by a truly “moral” and jut presidency. He will also have to prove to the second half that its fears were completely unjustified. Many of those who voted for Ivo Josipović still distrust him and doubt that he has the stature to be a good head of state. He will have to prove them wrong by bringing the two halves of Croatia closer to each other and working tirelessly to restore the country’s trust in democratic politics.Author : natacharajakovic