- House Democrats trying to force unemployment insurance vote
- Sen. Claire McCaskill to tackle sex assault at college next
- Judge’s order preserves NSA surveillance records
- Refurbished Pollock masterpiece goes on display
- Iditarod becomes mad dash for Nome
- ‘Burger King baby’ now seeks birth mom on Facebook
- Study: 2 percent of Americans have new hips, knees
- Friend: Pistorius shot gun out car without warning
- States wrestle with developing, restricting drones
- Japan marks 3rd anniversary of tsunami disasters
Croatian voters reject conservatives days before joining EU
DUBROVNIK, Croatia — Voters kicked out Croatia’s conservative government and elected a center-left coalition Sunday, days before the economically troubled Balkan country is to sign a treaty to join the economically troubled European Union.
Preliminary results in the parliamentary elections showed the center-left Kukuriku coalition, which is made up of several opposition groups, leading with 44.5 percent of the vote, and the incumbent center-right Croatian Democratic Union with 22 percent.
In the end, Croatia’s rampant corruption and high unemployment rate doomed the re-election bid of Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, despite her efforts in securing the country’s entry into the EU, which is headquartered in Brussels.
“Croatians were not impressed with this government, regardless of the EU treaty. We’re much more concerned with ending corruption and creating jobs,” said author Sinisa Pavic, 42, of Zagreb. “We want changes that will bring us a better life here, not smiling photo ops from Brussels.”
In the 20 years since winning its independence, Croatia has rebuilt much of its infrastructure, instituted many democratic reforms and seen its tourism industry increase steadily.
But as EU leaders struggle to contain the financial crisis, some observers say joining the bloc appears futile.
“Everything we join falls apart,” Mr. Pavic said, with a laugh. “Just look at history: the Roman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian regime, socialist Yugoslavia. Just don’t blame us if the EU collapses the day after we get in.”
The EU is notorious for issuing obscure regulations governing everything from sausages to cigarettes, and Croatians already feel burdened by their own bureaucracy.
Even though public skepticism of the EU runs deep in Croatia, it is unlikely to derail the accession process. Public support for membership has risen to 61 percent, and a referendum scheduled for January is expected to pass.
But analysts say that many Croatians support membership simply because it seems the only logical choice, not because they are truly enthusiastic about it. In fact, the closer membership gets, the less the Croatian public seems to care.
Instead, public attention is focused on dealing with deep-rooted problems at home: a shrinking economy, rising prices, high taxes, pervasive corruption and brain drain. Croatia is struggling to keep its credit rating above junk status, and forecasts for 2012 show an economy that is stagnant at best.
In addition, the ruling Croatian Democratic Union party is the subject of a broad criminal investigation, launched by the nation’s anti-corruption agency, that has alleged a vast money-laundering scheme.
TWT Video Picks
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
- FCC targets black conservative in TV station fight
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- President Obama goes 'Between Two Ferns' to pitch Obamacare
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- EDITORIAL: Senate Democrats pointless all-night global warming talkathon
- CPAC 2014: Despite Ben Carson's speech, gay marriage mostly took a back seat at CPAC
- CARNES: Kissinger's flawed and offensive analysis of Ukraine
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Hard-fought congressional election in Florida is seen as a bellwether
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again