Croatian Ex-PM Imagines 'Grand Coalition' in New Book

Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader listening to the reading of a judgement at a Croatian court in Zagreb. Photo: EPA / ANTONIO BAT

Croatia needs a grand coalition of its two biggest parties - the Social Democratic Party and conservative HDZ - in order to put to rest an "irrational and meaningless" conflict over the country's 20th-century history and focus on more pressing issues, former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader says in his new book.

Presented on Thursday, the second installment of Sanader's Age of Politics trilogy ponders the unthinkable - a grand bargain between social democrats and conservatives in an effort to focus their political energy on Croatia's concrete woes rather than arguments over the country's role in World War Two and the socialist Yugoslav federation that followed.

The book, Grand Coalition, also stakes Sanader's claim to remain a relevant player on the Croatian political scene despite his 2012 conviction for corruption, subsequently annulled in 2015 and now the subject of a retrial.

"For a long time, a grand coalition of HDZ and SDP (Social Democratic Party) has been needed for national and political reasons," Sanader told reporters. "Why? Primarily to end World War Two and the post-war period."

Such a pact "would end this politically irrational and meaningless debate and conflict," he said. "A coalition of HDZ and SDP would prove that we are a politically mature nation that can think and set priorities."

Twenty-seven years since Croatian independence, politics and society in the ex-Yugoslav republic are still grappling with the country's 20th century past, characterised by acrimonious debate over its role as a Nazi puppet state during WWII and the decades of socialist one-party rule that followed.

No other way out

Sanader, a former HDZ leader who was prime minister from 2003 to 2009, denied planning a political...

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