Political values and attitudes

Ilišin, Vlasta (2007) Political values and attitudes. In: Democratic transition in Croatia: value transformation, education & media. Eugenia and Hugh M. Stewart '26 Series on Eastern Europe . Texas A&M University Press, College Station, pp. 109-136. ISBN 978-1-58544-587-5

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The political values and attitudes analyzed in this chapter represent but a segment of the political culture of the Croatian citizens, understood as one of the preconditions of a successful democratic transition and consolidation. The emphasis was placed on those dimensions enabling insights into the acceptance of the proclaimed liberal-democratic values and the democratic potential of the citizens, and their perception of the social reality and political expectations. Such a reduced analysis suffices only to yield empirically verified information on certain elements of the awareness of Croatian citizens, which is why the conclusions of a more general nature might follow only after the in-depth and comparative analysis are over. Thus, this dominantly empirically oriented paper holds on the to the tendencies pointing to possible problems in the process of democratization, which will be present for a long while. The liberal-democratic values are highly accepted at the level of principles, meaning there is one of the necessary preconditions for building a democratic society. In that regard, one can state that there is a consensus over officially proclaimed values. Based on that, we can set a hypothesis that the Croatian society is coming out of the anomaly period, which started in the first years of transition when the all values were abandoned, and the new had not yet been widely accepted. One can also assume that the consensual acceptance of liberal-democratic values is the demonstration of the citizens' latent preparedness for democratic patterns of behavior. However, an insight into their understanding of democratic rules and the attitude toward the institutions of power, relativize the possible conclusion about a solid preparedness for adequate participation in democratic processes. The demonstrated democratic potential is at a relatively high level, but with a permanently present deficit in the understanding of conflicts of interests, manifested as a conspicuous inclination toward a harmonious understanding of politics. These trends suggest that the Croatian citizens are relatively slow in shedding those components of their undemocratic heritage de-stimulating political competition, without which there is no confrontation yielding better political solutions. At the same time, this reduces the chances of the citizens to really choose between different political options or programs and projects. When these failings in the democratic awareness are joined by the widespread distrust of institutions of power, the democratic potential of the citizens becomes even more questionable. Indeed, it is difficult to believe that the participation in elections, the demands for public control over government, the active participation of citizens and the like, will be at a satisfactory level if the citizens have no trust in the representatives they had voted for. This distrust disrupts the respectability of democratic political institutions and creates a base for the rise of authoritarian political options. Croatia has had much experience with that type of political behavior, and recent experiences demonstrate that the political protagonists are too often prepared for undemocratic behavior and for stepping outside of their jurisdiction. One must admit that most such incidents are met by the criticism of at least a part of the public, but it would seen that the political protagonists primarily count on the ability of the silent majority to endure authoritarian patterns of government. The research results on the dissatisfaction of the citizens with the situation in Croatia are concurrent with the statistical data that from year to year testified to the stagnation of the economy and the deterioration of the living standard of the citizens. In the last 3 to 4 years, the economic deterioration has decelerated, but the grave social differences, which had appeared during the 1990s, are not decreasing because today 15% of population possesses 80% of national wealth. Thus, it is not surprising that among the many problems the citizens are feeling, those of the socio-economic nature dominate, which is why the expectations are primarily focused at the economic sphere. Even though the war has ended over a decade ago, the negative trends have not been stopped, so the problems coming out of the unfavorable economic conditions cast a shadow over all other problems. Hence the concentration of political priorities on the area of economy. All that might, but not necessarily, affect the reduction of sensitivity to some other areas and problems key to further democratization. What these areas might be, can be illustrated through the lower validation of political pluralism. The reasons can be versatile: the dissatisfaction of citizens with the existing functioning of political parties, the satiety with the multi-party system (after only 15 years), the disappointment with the fact the parties are not compliant enough to one another (congruent to the found harmonious vision of politics), the discouragement with the insufficient differentiation of parties both on the ideological-program and the practical level, which is why they are nor perceived as valid representatives of the interests of the citizens... Regardless of the reason in question, the consequence of all this is the opinion that the democratic and multi-party system is not necessary for the democratic development of a society. It is redundant to explain the unviability of that attitude, but it is a problem that these doubts even arise, especially given the fact they spread with time. In that context, we may after all state that the danger the democratic process in Croatia might be stopped or usurped is minimal. Indeed, after five electoral cycles and the second change of government in the transitional period without great social unrest, one may state that Croatia has joined the circle of those transitional countries where the process of democratic consolidation has been initiated. This presumes the stability of political institutions and the respect for democratic rules, in spite of the occasional undemocratic incidents done by political protagonists or the confusion of citizens by the constellation of political relationships and the inadequate functioning of political protagonists.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Language: English.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political values, Croatia, democratization, transition, attitudes
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Depositing User: Karolina
Date Deposited: 30 Dec 2015 12:02
Last Modified: 30 Dec 2015 12:02
URI: http://idiprints.knjiznica.idi.hr/id/eprint/425

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