50’000 people on the streets in Croatia

On June 2, people flooded the streets of 13 cities in Croatia as well as the capital city Zagreb in a mass protest in favor of the education reform.

The demonstration in capital Zagreb attracted 40’000 citizens in spite of the prediction of the government who claimed that education reform isn’t an issue that can gather huge masses of people. Government officials went so far to predict that there will be “more people that will be waiting for a tram that day on the Zagreb’s main square then people protesting”.

Trg Josipa bana Jelacica, Zagreb, Croatia

Trg Josipa bana Jelacica, Zagreb, Croatia (Image: wikipedia.org)

Government officials were proven wrong when 40’000 people crowded the Ban Jelacic square.

Gathered under the slogan “Croatia can do better” protesters argued that comprehensive curricular reform is necessary and demanded the resignation of the minister of education, science and sports – Predrag Šustar.

Education reform was initiated by the former left-wing government led by SDP (Social democratic party of Croatia), but was blocked by the newly elected government led by right-wing HDZ (Croatian democratic union) and the Alliance of the independent lists – Most (or Bridge – translated from Croatian).

Protests erupted when an expert group in charge of the education reform withdrew from the project, accusing government of too much interference.

Banners like “Reforms should be done by experts”, or “Politics should stay out of education” that were held by the protesters were a direct civil response to what Croatian citizens perceived as “too much government interference in education reform”.

However, this is just the latest crisis that worries the newly elected government of Croatia as it was on a very shaky ground since the first day. Latest news indicate that the communication between the leaders of two parties that formed the government is almost nonexistent. Furthermore, since the protests, officials of the HDZ publicly announced on a few occasions that they are considering leaving the government.

by John D. Stanley (pseudonym)