Forget Democracy

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ZAGREB, Croatia: Alexandra Stiglmayer reports that though Sunday's Croation elections are a failure for democracy and the protection of minority Serb rights in the region, the White House is unlikely to do anything about it: " The elections have done nothing more than reinforce the Balkan status quo. The West has counted on Croatia for stability in the region, so it's not going to blame it now for an internal lack of democracy and human rights." With more than 90 percent of the total count in, Croatiannationalist strongman President Franjo Tudjman has won an easy victory, sidestepping Western media reports that incomplete voter lists had allowed only 10 percent of the country's thousands of ethnic Serbs to have a voice at the polls. Buoyed by recent U.S. approval of a $13 million loan, Tudjman took a tough line toward the U.S. during his campaign, calling Western criticism of his human rights record an attack on Croatian independence. "The West doesn't plan to play out the financial incentive for change," says Stiglmayer, "and Tudjman knows it." Although candidates calling for greater democracy took nearly 40 percent of the vote, ethnic groups in nearby Bosnia will read Tudjman's overwhelming victory as a deadend for pluralism in the Balkans . "The Muslim leaders can say, 'You see, all the Croats just voted for Tudjman, so we can't allow real democracy or we'll be weak.' The Serb leadership will say the same. Nothing will change."