Developing a Political Program (Vision for the Nation)

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Just a quick and dirty rant.

Developing a national political vision and program seems like a daunting task, but it should not be insurmountable. If we know key areas that need to be addressed and we believe in KISS, then a good plan can be easily developed. If you know where to start, the plan will develop naturally. Start with the goal of improving your ranking in global competitiveness reports.

What got me thinking

On Saturday June 13, 2015, Tomislav Karamarko, the leader of the HDZ (center-right Croatian Democratic Union) came to Canada and spoke to HDZ supporters in Norval, Ontario.

During his speech (see here in Croatian) he said that he wants:
1. In 2050 we want a population of 5.5 million and not 3.2 million
2. We want you (Croats outside the Homeland) to open up businesses in Croatia and provide jobs.

The one key statement at the end of the speech:
"We will open up opportunities for quality investments. We will open opportunities that you have here, God willing. We only ask of you one thing. If you can and when you are able, be capitalists and be successful business people in your Homeland, Croatia. Over there create new jobs and over there are earn a living and live decently. That is our interest."

I chuckled to myself. Why would anyone from the Diaspora that is capable of setting up a small business in the risky environment where local Croats gain "cool points" by being able to take advantage of foreigners (including gullible "Global Croats") - where young Croat males still see Ivo Sanader (corrupt ex-president) as a role model because he was able to get what he wanted (until he got caught).

He said that the HDZ has a plan that was developed in consultation with German and Slovak partners but her would not share the plan. (It is a secret and with with only 6 months to the election they do not want anyone to steal their plan.)

I wondered why the HDZ did not ask for participation from us Global Croats. There are quite a few of us that know something about politics and economics and who better than we, the potential investors, know the specific problems and "pain points" that need to be minimized. In business we know that if you want people to buy into a solution you need to let them provide inputs into the solution. "Trust me, I have your best interests at heart keeps rattling around in my brain."

Note: There are also a number of other political parties on the Croatian right but not a single political party in Croatia has a good (logical and systematic) plan (political program) for the nation. The parties proclaim to have political philosophies but those philosophies are barely visible in the ad hoc (and incoherent) plans that do exist.

Benchmarking to Start

I think that the start to finding a solution and developing a vision and plan can be quite simple. We need to do benchmarking to determine where we are weak and where we are strong in relation to other countries. We don't need to be the best but we do need to be better in key areas than others in our region. We need to be competitive.

The difficult part of doing benchmarking has already been done.
World Economic Forum - Global Competitiveness Report
Croatia is #77 our of 144 in the world

Heritage Institute - Index of Economic Freedom
Croatia is #35 out of 43 in the European region.

Download to analyze Croatian trend in WEF Competitiveness rankings since 2008

The people that develop these rankings are quite smart and know what environmental factors are required for economic success. Study these reports and the criteria on which they are based.

Why would anyone want to invest in such a risky (crappy environment for business) country?

Croatia is in the BOTTOM TEN in the world for the costs associated with "Burden of Government Regulations". This is NOT BUSINESS FRIENDLY!

Developing the Plan

Developing a plan should not be difficult.

If you want investment, then make Croatia BUSINESS FRIENDLY. Investment goes to areas that are competitive, that is where it is easier for businesses to succeed and be profitable. Set a goal to move up the rankings from #77 (out of 144) to #57 (5 places per year) in the WEF rankings and from #43 to #33 (2 places per year) in the Heritage Index.

Here are my proposed steps.

1. Society is made of two main parts, social and economic. Croatia has problems in both but we need to prioritize. Our social and cultural problems are like having sciatica while our economy is like having a knife in our abdomen. The sciatica is a horrible pain but the knife wound will kill us and so we need to prioritize the economy over the social and cultural issues.

2. We need economic growth. Economic growth requires good business ideas and investment. The government is not responsible for business ideas but it is responsible for a business friendly environment that promotes investment.

3. Identify the critical areas (medical concept of triage).
These are the issues that business sees as important.

WEF - Improve the five worst areas for Croatia;
a. Institutions (#87) – greatest control over this
b. Macroeconomic Environment (#91)
c. Labor Market Efficiency (#109)
d. Goods Market Efficiency (#105)
e. Innovation (#93) – least control over this

Heritage – Improve in all four main areas
a. Rule of Law (Property Rights and Freedom from Corruption)
b. Limited Government (Government Spending and Fiscal Freedom)
c. Regulatory Efficiency (Business, Labor and Monetary Freedom)
d. Open Markets (Trade, Financial and Investment Freedom)

5. Note the overlap between the WEF and Heritage reports. The problem is not with the analysis but with the Croatian system.

6. Work under the constraints of our conservative political philosophy that smaller and decentralized government is preferred, we believe in a regulated but not planned market economy, value individualism over collectivism all under proper rule of law.

7. Once you develop the plan, you again prioritize in the allocation of resources (time and money) to each part of the plan.

ADVICE - Fix the God-damned Expropriation Law that the socialists created and no one fought. Property rights mean nothing if the government can expropriate land from one private owner and give it to another private owner. The scope and scale of corruption resulting from this power is huge. Initiatives of "national interest" should not trump the sanctity or private property rights of the individual.

In The Public Eye

Pegging your success to these rankings is a "No Bullshit Promise" to the people. The Croatian people have suffered from too much bullshit and want some integrity.

Be confident in your plan and courageous to make your progress clearly visible. The people will appreciate it. When you make a promise to the people and then you can show them clearly that you, the government, have done your part in improving the environment for business then the onus falls on business to do their part. Since you have done your part successfully, the probabilities are high that the people will re-elect you to continue the successful repair of the nation.

When we see Croatia move up the rankings for freedom and competitiveness then the investments will start coming. Before then there will not be enough government monetary incentives (bribes) to set up viable long-term businesses that will provide good paying employment and drive the economy.

Campaign Advice

1. Tell us the plan NOW! It takes time to communicate the plan. You do not educate people during the election campaign. You educate them NOW. During he campaign you get them to like and trust what you have to offer. YOU need to start and maintain the narrative - you need to be first.

2. No one will steal your plan. if you have a conservative philosophy and a plan based on that philosophy the socialists will not steal your plan. If you put the plan out first then no one will plagiarize because that will make them look really really bad.

3. Few people will actually read the plan, but you still need to show it off. Let your "intellectuals", the thought leaders, promote the value of the plan. The more often the people hear the plan is good, the more they will believe it is good - even if they do not know what the plan is.

Otherwise - we will wonder, "What are they hiding?"

Updated 20th-June-2015 at 08:29 PM by Željko Zidarić

Željko Zidarić