Croats Exorcise Tudjman's Ghost

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Franjo Tudjman may be spinning in his grave — but hey, even Churchill got voted out straight after he'd won the war for Britain. Only weeks after the death of the man who led them to independence from Yugoslavia, Croats handed his opposition a landslide electoral victory. With 84 percent of the vote counted Tuesday, a center-left alliance headed by former communist Ivica Racan holds an overwhelming lead over Tudjman's nationalist party. "Croatians want to end the economic and political isolation that Tudjman's policies brought on Croatia," says TIME Central Europe bureau reporter Dejan Anastasijevic. "The opposition plans to liberalize the economy and attract investment, as well as make Croatia more firmly part of Europe."

The corruption and repression of the Tudjman era, and his reluctance to cooperate with the Hague Tribunal on Balkan war crimes, earned Croatia pariah status in Europe. "Although the opposition has vowed to work with the Hague Tribunal, don't expect a rush to hand over war crimes suspects," says Anastasijevic. "A lot of current military and police officers are potentially implicated in war crimes, and the new government can't afford to put these people in a corner." Still, the result will have a positive effect on the Balkan regional dynamic. "The most immediate change may occur in Bosnia, where the Bosnian Croat hardliners will lose support from Zagreb and that will help the Dayton peace process," says Anastasijevic. "The big loser may be Slobodan Milosevic, who worked with Tudjman to dismember Bosnia and whom it suited to have an authoritarian nationalist neighbor as a weapon with which to scare Serbs."