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Facebook Activism In Croatia

A good example in Croatia of the power of social media to mobilize the masses. Sixty thousand people have joined a Facebook group, "I bet I can find 5,000 people who dislike Sanader."

And another group, roughly translated as "Tighten your belts bandit-thieves" is calling for country-wide protests on December 5. It's a reference to a recent statement made by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader that people should deal with the economic crisis by, yes, tightening their belts.

And controversially in recent days, opposition activists distributing posters advertising anti-government protests were detained by police.

It's a sign the economic crisis is starting to bite in Croatia; people are feeling the pinch and are angry that, to their minds, the government isn't doing anything.

But it's the government reaction that's the most interesting. Sanader has been quick to condemn the police action, saying "No one should be detained or arrested in Croatia for expressing different views, just because they protest against or disagree with my policies or anyone else's."

With an eye on NATO and EU membership, Sanader is being very careful. It certainly wouldn't look good for him -- or his democracy -- if his police officers starting cracking the skulls of kids who hang out on Facebook.

-- Ankica Barbir-Mladinovic

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