The People, Press, and Politics of Croatia

The People, Press, and Politics of Croatia

The People, Press, and Politics of Croatia

The People, Press, and Politics of Croatia

Synopsis

Malovic and Selnow examine the evolution of the press-government relationship from the Tito era to the present. With Croatia the focus, they examine how the press has attempted to transform itself from a passive, self-censoring institution into a more aggressive one. The role of radio, the Internet, unions, and the public are explored.

Excerpt

A popular government, without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both.

James Madison

Madison’s theatrical reference to a people without a free press could have been written for Croatia. Both the tragedy and the farce have been played out over the recent past in that troubled land. Act I was the tragedy of iron censorship under Tito. Act II was the farce wherein censorship masqueraded as press freedom under Tud̃man.

Happily, the first act ended with Tito’s death, and the curtain came down on the second with Tud̃man’s demise in 2000. Today, the curtain is just rising on Act III, the birth of free expression and, with it, Madison’s dream of a popular government, popular information, and the means of acquiring it. The pivotal word, however, is dream. From the actions backstage of the newly elected Parliament—a slim democratic majority over Tud̃man’s Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party—one senses a new politics. And from the landslide victory of independents in the presidential campaign—almost 70 percent of the people voted against the HDZ candidate in the primary—a new day of press freedom may be in the offing as well. Or—and this must be said during the “gestation” period for the prodemocracy forces—the dream could turn into a nightmare, because such has been the case in the past.

Before the trumpets of the new democratic Croatia sound, therefore, we should carefully scrutinize the conditions in the Balkan drama that led through . . .

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