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Croatian Party of Rights

From Academic Kids

Template:Politics of Croatia The Croatian Party of Rights (Croatian Hrvatska Stranka Prava, HSP) is a right-wing political party in Croatia, the oldest in the country. It is considered to be an extremist party, although it views itself as neo-conservative.

The "Rights" in the party's name refer to the idea of Croatian national and ethnic rights that the party has vowed to protect since its founding in the 19th century. While the HSP has retained its old name, today it is a right-wing party with an ethnocentric platform.

The HSP traces its founding to June 26, 1861 when Ante Starčević and Eugen Kvaternik first presented the policies of the "Party of Rights" to the Croatian Parliament calling for greater Croatian autonomy and self-rule at a time when Croatia was divided into several crownlands within the Habsburg Monarchy.

In early October 1871, Kvaternik and several other HSP members disavowed the official party position advocating a political solution and instead launched a revolt in the village of Rakovica, Kordun. The rebels declared the following aims:

  • freedom of the Croatian people from Austrian and Magyar (Hungarian) oppression
  • proclamation of an independent Croatia
  • equality under law
  • municipal self-government
  • abolition of the Military Frontier and introduction of free counties
  • respect for both religions in love and unity

The rebels also sought to encourage participation of Orthodox Serbs in the revolt, and some of them did, but the uprising was soon crushed by the authorities. Most of the rebels were killed, including Kvaternik.

The HSP welcomed the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in the wake of World War I as an means toward achieving Croatian independence. Accordingly, the party opposed the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1929, the king of Yugoslavia banned all political parties, and the militant wing of the HSP went underground to organize the fascist Ustaše movement, led by former party secretary Ante Pavelić.

During World War II the Ustaše would assume power by forming the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), a puppet state of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The Ustaše sought to establish an ethnically pure Croatian nation, and committed atrocities and forced conversion to Catholicism against ethnic Serbs and others. HSP affiliation with the Ustase during the war severely damaged the party's reputation, from which it has yet to recover.

After the communist victory, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia established one-party rule, and thereby outlawed all other political parties, including the HSP.

After the fall of Communism in the early 1990s, the Party of Rights was restored but it was a rather minor nationalist party compared to the Croatian Democratic Union. The war years were a turbulent period during which the party was involved in the creation of the so-called Croatian Defense Forces (Hrvatske Obrambene Snage, HOS), one of the first paramilitary units that aimed to secure Croatian independence from Yugoslavia. This HOS acronym indicatively resembles the Hrvatske Oružane Snage, an NDH formation from 1944. The HOS members wore black uniforms that resembled the WWII Ustaše, and attracted to their ranks many neo-fascists that boasted actual Ustaše insignia. It is suspected that these were responsible for several war crimes during the war.

The ruling HDZ cooperated with them until the fall of Vukovar, after which the leaders of the HSP and HOS were imprisoned for terrorist activities and obstruction of democratically elected government, but later released.

The party's first post-communist president, Ante Paradžik was a political dissident during the former Yugoslavia when he was one of the student leaders of the Croatian Spring, but he was killed during the war, allegedly by assassination. His successor and former party vice president Dobroslav Paraga, who had also run afoul of the Yugoslav Communist authorities in the early 1980s, found himself in a power struggle with his deputy, Anto Đapić. Paraga and Đapić fought a legal battle for the right to use the party name, a dispute that Paraga eventually lost. Paraga later formed the Croatian Party of Rights 1861 (HSP 1861) but by this time he was already politically marginalized.

The HSP is a self-declared neo-conservative party currently led by Ante Đapić. His political reputation was severely tarnished after the media found out that he cheated to obtain his first post-graduate degree in law at the University of Split, in collusion with Boris Kandare, a senior member of his party and professor at the Law Faculty. He was also publicly accused of faking injuries to obtain the status of a war veteran. Despite these revelations, Đapić's career as head of the HSP was unaffected.

The modern HSP regards the NDH as a just expression of Croatian national interests, and the party often uses phrases and symbols similar to those used by the wartime fascist state. Party leadership, however, has attempted to distance the party from comparisons with the NDH-era in 2003 in an attempt to attract more moderate voters.

At the last legislative elections, 23 november 2003, the party - in an alliance with Međimurje Party (Međimurska stranka) and the Zagorje Democratic Party (Zagorska demokratska stranka) - won 6.4 % of the popular vote and 8 out of 151 seats, all for the HSP.

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