Interest groups in Croatia: Institutional development, strategies, and influence

AuthorIgor Vidačak,Dalibor Dvorny,Zdravko Petak
Published date01 May 2019
Date01 May 2019
Interest groups in Croatia: Institutional development,
strategies, and influence
Zdravko Petak |Igor Vidačak |Dalibor Dvorny
Faculty of Political Science, University of
Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
Zdravko Petak, Faculty of Political Science,
University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia.
As it transitions to democracy from a history of authoritarianism, Croatia's interest
group system is a work in progress. It is slowly moving from a fluid, informal, and
behind the scenes group system to one more institutionalized, with wider partic-
ipation, and some transparency of group activity. In this article, we explain the
evolution of Croatia's interest group system. The main argument is that specific
features of institutional design and structures have very much influenced political
advocacy behaviour and lobbying strategies of both informal and organized
In June 2016, an estimated 50,000 Croatians gathered in the main
square of Zagreb, the capital, as well as other towns across the coun-
try. The purpose was to advocate for continuation of longneeded
education reforms and to oppose attempts by a staunchly right wing
group in government to impose its perspective in teaching materials
on controversial social issues, such as gender identity, and sexual
minority rights, among others. The last time Croatians had taken to
the streets in such numbers was way back in 1996 to protest the
government's attempt to shut down the country's last independent
radio station, Radio 101.
The 2016 protests brought together several diverse segments
of society: Over 300 groups including civil society organizations,
trade unions, sports clubs, and local parents' organizations united
under the slogan Croatia can do better!These protests increased
discussion about the role and influence of interest groups in
policymaking, as well as on the factors shaping political advocacy
Yet, the role of interest groups in Croatia's political process has
not attracted significant attention of social scientists, and there is no
comprehensive treatment of group activity. There are, however,
several studies on the impact of different types of stakeholders on
policymaking and some studies examining connections between
political parties and interest groups, referred to later in this article.
Besides consulting various secondary sources for this article, a
survey was used to acquire original data. The data was gathered
from a set of interviews conducted in spring 2016 based upon a
more or less common set of questions as set out in the introductory
article in this volume (section 5.5 and Box 3). Fifteen interviews
included respondents divided into four groups: business leaders;
officials from trade unions and NGOs; senior civil servants; and
elected and politically appointed officials (ministers and deputy
ministers). The survey identifies a number of patterns or themes
that, when combined with the secondary sources, enable us to
provide an overview of the various aspect of interest group activity
in Croatia.
This article examines Croatia's developing interest group
system and its contemporary characteristics. It traces the evolution
of the group system as it moved from a traditional to a more
institutionalized system. The article also looks at how various
aspects of group activity relate to its developing democracy. First,
we briefly review the development of interests and interest groups
in Croatia.
Because much of Croatia's political development has been under
authoritarian regimes, until the recent move to pluralism, the activities
of interest groups have been largely constrained. The most significant
periods in their development have been the experience under the
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and after its dissolution
and the transition to democracy. However, the growth and operation
of interest groups can be traced long before the establishment of
the SRFY.
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1718
J Public Affairs. 2019;19:e1718.
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons, 1of12

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT