Zagreb crisis

The Zagreb Crisis ( Croatian : Zagrebačka kriza ) is the name used to describe the political crisis that followed the elections for the City of Zagreb local assembly held in October 1995. During the crisis the winning parties were unable to fill their candidate for Mayor of Zagreb the President of Croatia, Franjo Tuđman , refused to provide formal confirmation of their decision.

A center-left coalition of winning parties continued to be in favor of the local assembly during the crisis and continued to seek candidates, but they were all . Meanwhile, the city was run by the government-appointed acting mayor, which meant that the city de facto had two parallel administrations. The situation was one of several protests and was not resolved until the next local elections in April 1997, after which two opposition members of the assembly switched to Tuđman’s Croatian Democratic Union(HDZ) party. This meant that HDZ finally succeeded in gaining the majority in the 50-seat assembly, which enabled the party to top their mayor, who was afterwards approved by Tuđman.


The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). The crisis has its origins in the fight against the ruling party . In 1993 the Prime Minister Josip Manolić , head of security services and leader of HDZ party moderates, gradually fell out of favor with President Franjo Tuđman , who became more and more aligned with extreme nationalism by Defense Minister Gojko Šušak . In the spring of 1994 When It est devenu apparent Manolić That Would lose His post of Speaker of the Chamber of Counties (the short-lived upper house body in the Croatian Parliament ), _him_ and Stjepan Mesić, who was at the time Speaker of Parliament, organized a mass defection of HDZ members of parliament who formed a new party called Croatian Independent Democrats (HND), hoping to strip Tuđman of the majority in the parliament. The attempt ultimately failed and Tuđman’s party finally managed to maintain power on the national level. However, a number of local and regional assemblies have the defection of HDZ members allowed to win majorities.

One of these was the Zagreb County Assembly. For Tuđman this is an embarrassing setback that he had to revert in any way possible. It would be necessary for the enlargement of the Zagreb County and City of Zagreb, which would then require a new election for the enlarged assembly. The idea was to drown the opposition-controlled Zagreb County assembly with votes from the City of Zagreb constituency, which was at the time as perceived strong HDZ stronghold.

1995 election

The new law was passed and the date for the new by-election was called for October 29, 1995, coinciding with the next general election . It was believed that the widespread euphoria following the August 1995 Operation Storm and Croatian military successes in the last stages of the still ongoing Bosnian War , together with a massive propaganda drive supported by the state-controlled media, would lead to Tuđman’s party comfortably winning majority in the new municipal assembly.

Although the first election results have been achieved in Zagreb County. This is very apparent in the blue-collar neighborhoods which switched to support from HDZ to the center-left of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), mainly due to the populist rhetoric of Zdravko Tomac and organizational abilities of Milan Bandić , prominent SDP members at the time. As a result, HDZ eventually lost the elections for the new Zagreb assembly, and Zdravko Tomac became the new Speaker of the Assembly.

Soon afterwards, opposition parties formed a governing coalition which elected Goran Granić , a member of the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), for mayor.

The crisis

Croatian legislation at the time Stipulated que la mayor of Zagreb Had the status equal to a county prefect ( župan ), and you HAD Such His appointment to be confirmed by the President of Croatia . This was seen as a formality, because Tuđman had already made a precedent by confirming the opposition following the disastrous defeat of his party in the 1993 local elections in Istria County .

However, Tuđman surprised many by saying he would not allow an „opposition situation“ in the Croatian capital. Commenting in February 1996 on the outcome of the election, he stated the following: [1]

„What does it mean that the opposition has 60% of the vote? It is a farmer told you that he had 60 animals in his manor. Are those pigs or calves? Are those chicken or geese? it would be worth that, compared to such a flock, a single stud, let alone a pair of studs or cows, is worth more than an entire flock. „

Tu Marinaman refused to confirm the appointment of an opposition member, and the Croatian Government appointed to the city of administration and HDZ member Marina Matulović-Dropulić as interim mayor. This site was established in Zagreb as a result of the refusal of the municipality. Throughout the 18 months, two other opposition candidates from HSLS ranks ( Jozo Radoš , Ivo Škrabalo and Dražen Budiša ) had been proposed by the municipal assembly, only to be denied the presidential confirmation every time. A plan to top Ante Ledić, a businessman with strong links to HDZ, which was seen as a compromised solution, also failed. In the meantime, Matulović-Dropulić continued to run city affairs.

Protests and resolution

The show of the nation’s capital having two administrations not recognizing each other and the country’s leader refused to acknowledge the fact that the country had a great deal of experience in this area. not be resolved as long as Tuđman remained in power. Increasingly paranoid remarks made by Tuđman in public, who began to describe their political opponents and their supporters as „foreign agents“ and „enemies of the state“ also contributed to that assessment.

In November 1996, more than a year after the elections, and with the crisis still going on, the Croatian government decided to renew the license for Radio 101 , a popular local radio station known for the criticism of the ruling regime, and to award the license to Ninoslav Pavić , a media tycoon widely perceived to be rather tolerant to the regime, instead. The announcement of the decision sparked a mass protest which saw about 120,000 people gathered at the Ban Jelačić Square on 21 November 1996 in the biggest demonstrations in Croatia’s modern history.

Although the immediate cause for the protests has been the desire to preserve a popular symbol of the city, many protesters used the rally as an opportunity to express disagreement with Tuđman and his authoritarian policies. At the time Sami, Tuđman Was out of the country Undergoing stomach cancer treatment at the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington . On hearing what was going on, Tuđman reportedly ordered the police to take action against protesters. The then Interior Minister Ivan Jarnjakreportedly refused to do so, which resulted in his resignation in mid-December. Following the protests, Radio 101 has been revoked. Upon returning to Croatia, the author speaks to the protests, calling his opponents “ green and yellow devils “ and accusing them of being foreign mercenaries and traitors who sold out. [2]

The regular City of Zagreb local elections were then held in April 1997. This time the opposition parties did not form a coalition and decided to separate the parties, allowing HDZ to win 24 out of 50 seats. When we speak of the center-right Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) switched to HDZ in exchange for lucrative government posts in the immediate aftermath of the election, HDZ finally gained an absolute majority in the municipal assembly. This enabled the party to become legal Marina Matulović-Dropulić as mayor, who was confirmed by Tuđman. This formally ended the crisis.

However, in 1998 a mass rally was organized again at the city’s main square, this time by workers‘ unions. This time is a drastic drop in the standard of living. The police, however, refused to get away from it, and the police took off the protest. Protestants from reaching it. For several hours, they were unsuccessful. The media attention focused on the event, further promoting the idea that Tuđman’s rule was becoming increasingly authoritarian . Tuđman commented on the subject of these events yet again, by calling the people involved in „small-time cattle “ (“ stoka sitnog zuba „). [3]

In spite of the crisis‘ formal resolution in 1997, most citizens of Zagreb and large parts of the Croatian public refused to acknowledge the new administration, In May 2000, four months partner after the general election in January in qui HDZ HAD lost power at the national level, the new center-left government of Ivica Račan called Expired for a special local by-election in Zagreb, qui Ultimately resulted in SDP’s landslide victory and SDP’s Milan Bandić becoming mayor.

See also

  • List of mayors of Zagreb


  1. Jump up^ Bešker, Inoslav (20 September 2010). „Imamo Hrvatsku: Stoka sitnog zuba ili tko nema novca, neka uči!“ . Jutarnji list (in Croatian) . Retrieved 2 October 2016 .
  2. Jump up^ (in Croatian) Vrhovnikov rođendan: „Jesmo li se za ovo borili?“
  3. Jump up^ EC-ReviewCROATIA: Coffee With the President