Lovro Kralj (Croatia 2017, 2018, 2019) is a historian dealing with the 19th and 20th European history. He specializes in the fields of nationalism, antisemitism, fascism, Holocaust, genocide, populism and memory studies. His regional focus is on Central and South-East Europe. He holds a BA and MA from the University of Rijeka in Philosophy. He holds a second MA in Comparative History from Central European University. He is a PhD candidate at CEU’s History Department.
Topics: History and Memory of the Ustasha Atrocities Between Myth and Reality: Politicization, Securitization and Production of Knowledge (1985-2017); Memory Politics as Populist Right-Wing Strategies in Croatia (2010-2018); The Scholarship on the Far-Right in Transition: From Studies of Fascism to right-wing Populism
Memory Politics as Populist Right-Wing Strategies in Croatia (2010-2018)
The aim of the research is to analyze the recent developments on the Croatian far-right, namely the emergence of the coalition of right-wing populism and the way they use memory politics as a common platform for mobilization of their supporters. The rise of right-wing populism in Croatia is ascribed to various international factors such as 1) the entrance of Croatia into the EU which removed the incentives to suppress the rise of the far-right movements and keep pro-Ustasha rhetoric under the lid, and 2) transfer of ideology and political strategies from other right-wing movements. Domestic factors which led to the rise of the far-right populism in Croatia are related to 1) developments within the largest center-right party Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the policy of right-wing consensus-building introduced by Tomislav Karamarko, and 2) the internal developments on the far-right scene, namely the radical change of its program, organizational form and discursive style. The emerging right-wing populist movement(s) in Croatia do not constitute a single monolith entity. However, they do represent a political alliance which consists of various NGOs, such as anti-LGBT and anti-abortionist groups, war veterans organizations, radicalized elements of the Catholic church, far-right media personalities and a group of revisionist historians. Besides sharing significant ideological and programmatic aims, they are also united in their opposition to both mainstream center-right (HDZ) and center-left (SDP) parties, further EU integration and issues related to minority rights. However, one of the main commonalities evident between these groups is their discourse related to memory politics. The right-wing populists are trying to mobilize their supporters by challenging the mainstream narrative about the Croatian past, namely by opposing the narrative about the positive aspects of the anti-fascist Partisan struggle during the Second World War and by further critiquing the legitimacy of Socialist Yugoslavia. The right-wing populist usage of memory politics is used as both a positive pull-factor for pushing their ideology into the political arena, and an “anti-“ push-factor in furthering the critique of the political mainstream.