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The Absent Socioeconomic Cleavage in Croatia: a Failure of Representative Democracy?

Danijela Dolenec orcid id ; Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

Puni tekst: engleski pdf 133 Kb

str. 69-88

preuzimanja: 941



This paper engages with the broader debate about the failures of representative
democracy through a critical analysis of political cleavages in Croatia
from 1991 until the present. Building on existing studies which repeatedly
show that in Croatia political party competition is not structured along socioeconomic
cleavages, I argue that a socioeconomic cleavage exists in society,
but is not represented in the parliamentary arena. This hypothesis is backed up
by data from the ISSP survey (2009), aggregate comparative data as well as
an overview of existing studies. Available evidence points to growing social
stratification in society, while the citizens of Croatia are aware of socioeconomic
inequalities, they exhibit egalitarian value orientations and their economic
preferences seem coherent when approached from a social class perspective.
The second part of the paper formulates potential explanations for
this proposed mismatch between social dynamics and its representation in the
parliamentary arena, ranging from the role of communist historical legacies
and the impact of nation-building and war in the 1990s, towards considering
the way in which major political parties were influenced by European political
party families and the European integration process more broadly. Overall,
the analysis suggests that in Croatia structural conditions are conducive to a
socioeconomic cleavage, but that interests on their own cannot trigger collective
social action – effective representation must be fought for through political
articulation and mobilisation.

Ključne riječi

political cleavages, political party competition, representative democracy, socioeconomic inequalities, Croatia in comparative context

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