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Gabriel Partos
"There's no obvious successor"
 real 28k

Saturday, 11 December, 1999, 07:47 GMT
Who will lead Croatia after Tudjman?

Budisa, Tomcic, Racan Croatia's politicians are preparing for life without President Tudjman

Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's poor state of health prompted speculation in the Croatian media about the succession. He was replaced on an acting basis by the speaker of parliament, Vlatko Pavletic, but who are the likely candidates to lead Croatia into the 21st century? South-east Europe analyst Gabriel Partos looks at the main contenders:
The ruling party
President Tudjman did not designate an heir apparent. But behind the scenes, prominent figures in his governing nationalist party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), have been positioning themselves for the succession; and they have been doing so since before the president was taken to hospital in November. There are three leading undeclared candidates:

Vladimir Seks: A deputy speaker of parliament, Mr Seks is a leading ideologist of the dominant hardline nationalist wing of the HDZ. Mr Seks, 56, is a former judge with a long-standing power base in eastern Slavonia. He has been at the top of his party's hierarchy since it gained power in 1990 and weathered many storms that have marginalised other once top-ranking HDZ politicians.

Ivic Pasalic: Is presidential adviser on internal affairs, and has taken over the mantle of leader of the powerful and cash-rich "Hercegovina lobby" of Bosnian Croats since the death last year of the former Croatian Defence Miniser, Gojko Susak. Although Mr Pasalic shares many of Mr Seks's nationalist policies, he is disliked by HDZ officials from within Croatia itself who resent the influence of the Hercegovina Croats.

Mate Granic: The Minister of Foreign Affairs is the leading figure within the much-diminished pro-Western, liberal wing of the HDZ. Although his posts also include that of deputy prime minister, he has relatively little influence inside the HDZ. However, while he is likely to be passed over in the contest to succeed Mr Tudjman as leader of the HDZ, 52-year-old Mr Granic may gain the party's nomination for the post of president as he is the most popular HDZ politician in Croatia. He is also considered by Croatia's Western partners as a man they can do business with.
Other contenders
In the post-Tudjman era the post of president would lose most of its executive functions which the authoritarian Mr Tudjman acquired through sheer force of personality and his control over the governing HDZ. It is likely that power would shift towards the prime minister - especially if the opposition parties win the parliamentary elections due on 3 January 2000. Politicians outside the HDZ who will be in the running for the top posts include:

Ivica Racan: Chairman of the Social Democrats, the main opposition party, who would be a strong contender for the post of prime minister. A social scientist by training, Mr Racan, 55, was the last leader of the once-ruling ruling Croatian League of Communists. Since losing power in 1990, he has managed gradually to make his party respectable once again and to transform it into what is now the senior partner in an apparently viable opposition alliance.

Drazen Budisa: Leader of the Social Liberals, the junior party in the main opposition coalition, was a student leader in the Croatian national-democratic movement during the early 1970s and was imprisoned for several years for his activities under communist rule. Now 51, Mr Budisa is regarded as the most likely opposition candidate for the presidency - if the main opposition group decides to nominate a single candidate.
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26 Nov 99 |  Europe
Analysis: Contemplating life without Tudjman

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