Editorial

Transparency, the Biggest Winner in the 2021 Croatian Local Elections?

By 27 May 2021
Trogir is one of the cities working on transparency with Vuk Vukovic
Trogir is one of the cities working on transparency with Vuk Vukovic Pixabay

May 27, 2021 - The first round of the 2021 Croatian local elections brought a strong breeze of change to the country, with one clear winner - transparency. 

I must confess that I am looking forward to Monday morning. Apart from the fact that I will be back in court for the first hearing of one of my two lawsuits from the Croatian National Tourist Board (which I am secretly quite enjoying, but don't tell anyone), it will also be the day after the second round of voting in the Croatian local elections. 

The Croatian obsession of treating even minor politician as rock stars is a source of endless fascination to me. Ask the average Brit to name, reconise and know the position of 10 politicians, and you will struggle. Not so in Croatia. Even though we do not talk politics at home, my daughters knew the mayors of Jelsa, Split and Zagreb, Karamarko, Oreskovic, Kosor, Plenkovic, Milanovic, Sanader and probably a few others. While at kindergarten age. 

The negativity of campaigning is on the rise globally, but things are always fairly murky in the Balkans.But are things changing a little? Is there some hope for Hrvatska, as that gentle Croatia 2.0 breeze of change gathers strength? If, as expected, the frontrunners for Sunday's run-off in Split and Zagreb prevail, this will be a huge gust of wind blowing in the direction of a better future for our children.

But it is not just in the big cities. 

I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but TC and Dubrovnik nomads have kept me busy. After the first round of elections on May 16, I posted this on my Facebook profile:

Although I don't pretend to understand all the nuances of Croatian local politics, a very interesting night at the polls. A brighter dawn for Zagreb for sure, and the success of young Ivica Puljak in Split is truly inspiring.

Can change come to Croatia? Look no further than Sveta Nedelja and compare the vote to 4 years ago. Even without Rimac, Holy Sunday is flying. Thanks to the leadership of Dario Zurovec and his team, jobs are up 20%, population has increased by 10% it has been named the top medium-sized Croatian town for the economy for the last 3 years in a row, as well as in the top 5 for quality of life.

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And the voters seem to like it. A staggering 42% increase in the vote for young Zurovec, from 22% in 2017 to 64% this time around. A tiny case study of how to bring change to Croatia in just 4 years.

Just as the Croatian National Tourist Board is an irrelevant institution, so too the old politics of corruption and cronyism. I must admit. I am loving this gentle breeze of change, which is slowly gathering pace by the day. Go Croatia 2.0!

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It seems that Sveta Nedelja was not alone. Transparency legend and Croatian brainbox Vuk Vukovic has been working with various local authorities to introduce transparency into local administration. And he had a rather interesting Facebook update of his own:

Transparency pays off ?

In the cities and municipalities that have introduced (or are introducing) our version of full budget transparency, their (city) mayors are each at over 60% in the first round.

Hrebak, Bjelovar - 66.8%
Ahmetovic, Omisalj - 63.5%
Petrina, Primosten - 70.3%
Bilic, Trogir - 63.6%

Ok, they would all get it probably without transparency, there are a lot of other projects and merits, but if it helped them a little, it's good!

Congratulations to the cities that have a transparent public procurement register (which is also certainly a step in the right direction), such as Sveta Nedelja and Zlatar, and their mayors at over 60% in the first round. Again, thanks to great other projects, but it's nice that voters honor this topic as well.

And I am also glad that the candidates in other cities who announced transparency were awarded, and those who faked transparency, ie offered a false promise, were punished (such as Pavičić-Vukičević and Filipović in Zagreb).

Everything is great.

There must be a message in there somewhere. Could it be that when people decide to vote for a better future for their children rather than the nepotism of the past, they see that Croatia moves forward, and their lives are better as a result? And then they want more of it?

Looking forward to a cleansing bura on Sunday night and then focusing on fresh beginnings on Monday. The twin viruses of technology and transparency are here to stay.  

 

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