Balkans: January 7, 2000


No surprise here. Croatia's six-party opposition alliance smashed late President Franjo Tudjman's creaking Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in national elections held on January 3. The count as of January 5 says the Social Democratic Party (SDP) the former communists, and Croat Social-Liberal Party (HSLS), the two center-left elements of the opposition, will have around 70 of the 150 Croat parliament seats, the other four parties (Liberal Party (LS), Croatian Peasants' Party (HSS), the Croatian People's Party (HNS), and the Istria Democratic Party (IDS)) will have 20 to 25 seats. The HDZ will control the remaining seats (40 to 45). Drazen Budisa of the SDP will most likely be the new president. Look for Croatia to "follow Slovenia" in trying to link its economy as rapidly as possible to the West. Croatia will attempt to cut new deals with Hungary, Austria, and Italy. All three of these western nations view the election results as favorable for cleaning up Tudjman's corrupt, ultra-nationalist legacy. Tudjman favored dividing Bosnia up into three different countries (and implicitly favored Croatia's absorption of part of Bosnia). Look for the new government to be concerned about Croat refugees throughout the Balkans, but to curtail Bosnian intrigues.


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