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(E) The Washington Times - Croation opposition emulate GOP
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  12/2/2001 | Media Watch | Unrated
(E) The Washington Times - Croation opposition emulate GOP
opposition party chief</A> 
The Washington Times 
November 27, 2001 
Croation opposition party chief would emulate GOP 
By Jeffrey T. Kuhner 
     The leader of Croatia's main opposition party says that he will adopt 
President Bush's "compassionate conservative" agenda should he form the next 
government of his former Yugoslav republic. 
Top Storie 
     Ivo Sanader, the head of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), said in an 
interview that "my goal as leader is to create a Croatian version of the 
Republican Party." 
     "I want to transform the HDZ into a modern conservative party that will 
implement free-market policies necessary to stimulate economic growth and the 
creation of wealth," he said. 
     Mr. Sanader also said he is a strong advocate of sweeping "income-tax 
cuts, deregulation and cuts in public spending" to reverse Croatia's sliding 
economy and 23 percent unemployment rate. 
     The HDZ leader, who calls himself an "admirer" of Mr. Bush and his 
"compassionate conservative policies," is a proponent of a pro-growth, 
economic-reform agenda. 
     "We are a party that accepts individual freedoms and choice and which 
shares common values with like-minded conservative parties in Europe and the 
United States. The HDZ is committed to democracy and a free-market 
philosophy," Mr. Sanader said last week at a luncheon meeting at the Cato 
     He also believes that Croatia should continue the process of joining the 
European Union and NATO. 
     Mr. Sanader, 48, took over the leadership of the HDZ in April 2000 after 
the death of its founder, Franjo Tudjman, in December 1999. Mr. Tudjman 
successfully led Croatia's bloody drive for independence from Yugoslavia in 
     However, Mr. Tudjman was criticized by Western governments during the 
1990s for his regime's authoritarian tendencies, economic cronyism and 
rampant corruption. This led to Croatia's growing international isolation and 
the threat of economic sanctions. 
     Mr. Sanader concedes the HDZ "made mistakes while we were in power, 
especially with regard to economic policies and corruption. This led us to 
fundamentally reexamine our approach." 
     The election of a center-left coalition government in January 2000, 
which ran on a platform of economic reform and closer pro-Western links, 
reduced the once-dominant HDZ to a shadow of its former self. Yet the 
left-leaning government's inability to overcome the nation's economic woes 
has led to a resurgence in the popularity of the HDZ. The party won local 
elections in May. 
     Mr. Sanader said the revamped HDZ is now considerably ahead of Prime 
Minister Ivica Racan's Social Democratic Party in public opinion polls with 
"approximately 30 to 33 percent voter support." 
     Josko Celan, a political analyst at the Split-based newspaper Slobodna 
Dalmacija, said Mr. Sanader is committed to changing the HDZ into a 
Western-style, conservative party. But Mr. Celan doubts whether Mr. Sanader 
will be able to implement his tax-cutting, anti-statist agenda if he becomes 
Croatia's next prime minister. 
     "He would like to get rid of the old image of the HDZ," Mr. Celan said 
in a telephone interview. "But Croatia and the United States are two very 
different societies. The tradition of a free-market economy in the United 
States is much longer and deeper. I believe it is his intention to pass tax 
cuts and other free-market measures. But I don't know how much he can 
achieve. He will face a very tough economic situation." 
     Mr. Sanader said the election of Mr. Bush and Italy's Prime Minister 
Silvio Berlusconi has had an impact on Croatia's electorate, making it more 
receptive to the possibility of a conservative government capturing power in 
     "The public feeling toward the HDZ is changing after the Italian and 
U.S. elections," Mr. Sanader said. "And they are now seeing conservative, 
center-right parties in a new, positive light." 
 copyright © 2001 News World Communications, Inc. 
Submitted by Tomislav Sunic 
distributed by CROWN (Croatian World Net) - 
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