The Cacic Affair

There has been an interesting political development in Croatia. Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Radomir Cacic has been found guilty by a Hungarian court of causing an accident in which two people died. Cacic received a non-custodial sentence.

This news may have passed some by; there have been very few English language reports on the matter. This is not merely due to the usual disinterest in Croatia, but rather to do with the personal politics of a number of people who cover Croatia. You can be sure there would be more coverage if it were a HDZ minister of the previous government.

Aside from this, Cacic – at time of writing – is still in his post. He is a member of the Croatian People’s Party, one of the government coalition members. His party colleague, foreign minister Vesna Pusic, is defending him going so far as to say it would be destabilising for him to resign. Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic has been criticised for saying that the government of Croatia is in the hands of a ‘clerk’ – meaning the Hungarian judge.

British observers may be surprised by all this. The Liberal Democrat coalition Environment minister Chris Huhne had to resign when he was charged with perverting the course of justice in relation to allegedly convincing his wife to accept speeding points for him. There is not much current British politics can really set an example for to Croatia, but that just makes the comparison all the more stark.

It is still too early to fully assess the Kukuriku coalition in Croatia – there has been no great economic calamity. However, the Cacic affair is a serious test for the credibility of the coalition in the eyes of the Croatian public. For that reason it is an important political moment in the country.

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