We live in times when more often than not we find ourselves among the ever increasing number of people that are dissatisfied with the make-up of their government cabinet or choice of ministers. More often than not there is a huge gap or shortfall between peoples’ expectations of government and what government delivers. Trust in government has been declining fast and certainly gives no room for a new Prime Minister to make steps that are bound to stir up a whole new round of public disappointment and outcries that in many ways make the work of the government more difficult than what it should be.
I stand deeply disappointed and sad in fact, that Croatia’s Prime Minister designate Andrej Plenkovic has in the evening of Tuesday 18 October 2016 announced that Dr Zlatko Hasanbegovic will not serve as minister in his new government but instead, the culture portfolio is given to woman who has been the subject of alarming scandals over past weeks – Nina Obuljen Korzinek – who as member of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre’s management board is said to have been instrumental during the recent past in permitting and supporting the production and the distribution of anti-Croatian films that, according to many, muddy the name and the reputation of the Croatian Homeland War.
From Left: Zeljko Glasnovic and Zorica Greguric, Protesting new government appointments
General Zeljko Glasnovic, member of parliament, has along with Croatian volunteer war veteran Zorica Greguric already protested against this choice for minister Plenkovic has made. “Croatia is morally and economically on its knees, especially culturally on its knees because a ‘cultural Leninist’ is leading her,” stated Glasnovic in Zagreb Croatia.
Governments have traditionally been organised to administer, not to foster and enable. But if increasingly complex challenges call for the government to become an enabler, then it needs to be able to push forward with policy, not just deal with pushback. When it comes to Plenkovic it would seem he has missed the heeding of the former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg’s famous words “In God we trust, everyone else, bring data“, who reiterated through his work those famous words initially attributed to W. Edwards Deming, the father of modern quality management. Bloomberg’s data-driven rationalism reduced crime and allocated resources more efficiently to those who needed them. But data can also be used to rationalise decisions and get public on side. Evidently, even if Plenkovic had data regarding the public’s opinion about Hasanbegovic and about Obuljen, and if Plenkovic had respect and acknowledgement of the data regarding the ceaseless public outcries regarding the lack of adequate attention towards victims of communist crimes, that is a burning divisive issue needing resolution so that Croatia can move on into a better future, then he would not have named a person as minister of culture whose nomination automatically creates bad blood across the very society he says his government will unify or work for towards betterment.
Perhaps Hasanbegovic’s widespread popularity was becoming personally threatening for Plenkovic? Whatever it was that helped him make this decision regarding his new culture minister must be removed from his mindset for it does not appear right. If he was intent on nominating another person instead of Hasanbegovic then, knowing that false allegations against Hasanbegovic to do with alleged neo-fascism or revisionism resurfacing in Croatia, he had the duty to install such a person into that ministry whose very nomination would assist the government in quashing the complex reputation challenges these allegations have brought to the Croatian nation as a whole. But then again, Andrej Plenkovic is no Michael Bloomberg or W. Edwards Deming – sadly. But, there is always time to put ones pride aside and change ones decision even if one is a Prime Minister.
Not a good start for Andrej Plenkovic as Prime Minister even if he may insist on justifying or explaining his decision with the enthusiasm new, fresh faces bring – he would fail miserably in showing that any new, fresh faces must bring novelty and freshness with them – not create bigger wounds of old ones. “When we talk about the new people (in his government), it’s a combination of experience. A notable contribution of people who are in the prime of strength in their energy and experience and some younger people...” Plenkovic said describing his new team. Oh dear, what new Prime Minister has ever said anything different about his/her chosen government team.
“He is not the only minister who worked within a delicate context…Hasanbegovic was the culture minister, he is elected into the Croatian parliament, he will be a member of our parliamentary team, we will find him the most competent position,” said Plenkovic commenting his decision not to appoint Hasanbegovic a minister.
Well frankly, whether Plenkovic or HDZ find anything “most competent” to do for Hasanbegovic or not, the fact remains that Hasanbegovic already has a most competent position on his own merit, without Plenkovic’s “handouts” – Hasanbegovic was elected into parliament at September elections with an overwhelming number of votes from the electorate. Andrej Plenkovic, whose father is said to have been an active communist party of Yugoslavia operative, has not even been sworn in as the PM yet and prognoses for shaken stability of his new government are already beckoning: watch this space. The fact that Plenkovic has named Davor Ivo Stier, whose grandfather is said to have been a colonel in the WWII Ustashe forces in Croatia, as his foreign minister, will not help a single bit with the public’s anger against Obuljen’s appointment as minister of culture. The issue of Nina Obuljen as utterly unsuitable as culture minister at this time of unrelenting pressure to unite the Croatian society by reconciling its post-WWII history to the full will not go away any time soon for society at large. It will most likely give rise to a serious split in HDZ party ranks as well.
Ministers from the HDZ political parties
Ministers from the MOST political parties
by Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd) inavukic.com /hia.com.hr