On the Way to the Bottom: A Review of the First 100 Days of Croatia's Government

In office 100 days now, the new Croatian government is systematically working on only one goal: turning Croatia into an illiberal democracy without the space for critical thinking, freedom of the press, respect for human rights and diversity.
"We wonder whether citizens would vote for the program of this government if they had been advertising the things they do now on their pre-election billboards — the weakening of the welfare state, the commercialization of the public health system and the reducing of the freedoms of the press and speech," said Ana Brakus of the NGO CESI, during the press conference held on the occasion of the first 100 days of the new government.

Platform 112 expresses its deep concern regarding the actions of the new government, which undermines the quality of democracy and respect for human rights that the country has achieved.

It demands that the government urgently and unconditionally stop the dismantling of democratic institutions, the collapse of the welfare state, endangering the freedom of the media and obstruction of civic association and critical civil society.

Also, as stated in the review of the first 100 days of the new government, Platform 112 seeks public condemnation and appropriate sanction for all pro-Ustasha phenomena in the society and to stop flirting with such elements — in which the dismissal of the minister of culture, Zlatko Hasanbegović, should be the first, not the last step.

The fall of free media

Systematic political pressure on the media threatens freedom of expression, and suppression of non-profit media seriously undermines the recognition and integration of marginalized groups and the problems they face.

New faces are filling the offices of Croatian Radiotelevision's headquarters in Zagreb.

The change of the key people on the Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT) was implemented through non-transparent and arbitrary procedures and on the basis of politics — these people continue to politicize of the program of the public service media. Under the aegis of preventing the spread of ethnic and religious hatred, HRT introduced politically motivated censorship of the satirical content.

"Every day, democracy in the Republic of Croatia is approaching to democratura, respectively, defective democracy," said Dragan Zelić from GONG.

No development without human rights

Democracy is not the rule of the majority over the minority, but a system that protects all citizens and defends the rights of all minorities; a system in which individual freedom ends where another person's rights begin; a system in which individuals and groups have the right to publicly express critical views and opinions. That is what the voters choose.

NGOs say the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković is to blame for the situation in the country.  (Image: Vlada Republike Hrvatske - Flickr/CC content)

"Not only Prime Minister Oresković, but also the entire ruling coalition, are responsible for the situation in the country, and they can not hide behind the individual ministries. Socioeconomic development of Croatia will not be possible without respect for basic human rights and freedoms," concluded Gordan Bosanac from the Centre for Peace Studies.