Two months before the May 2017 elections, 400 people ZjN! marched through the streets of the capital with a banner proclaiming “The city is ours”. The movement met outside the city assembly where they read a 25-point manifesto, a plan designed collaboratively.
In 2019, ZjN! formed Možemo! a political platform with a local and national perspective that would stand in the European elections that year. Before the 2021 municipal elections, the program was developed horizontally through local assemblies and online questionnaires, to which some 10,000 people contributed. A central idea put forward by the platform is that of a polycentric city, which rejects the type of planning that favors only city centers.
Win the city on his second attempt
Academic and ZjN! Activist Karlo Kralj has chronicled the rise of the online municipalist magazine, Minim. This story is linked to the demise of the type of politics that have dominated the Croatian capital for the past two decades, a decline clearly indicated in the 2021 election results for Pavičić Vukičević, the former candidate of the former mayor, candidate from the same party, which obtained less than 12% of the vote, coming third in the first round.
Kralj highlights how 2020 has been a pivotal year. Zagreb has faced a number of crises, including a severe earthquake and then a flood, both poorly handled by the previous administration. The COVID pandemic has only highlighted the city’s decrepit and dysfunctional infrastructure, itself the result of years of neglect and corruption. Možemo! was able to become the main opposition as the Social Democratic Party was riddled with infighting and ideological inconsistency. It gained popularity with their success in the Croatian national elections of July 2020. It is also important, says Kralj, Možemo! builds city-wide support through a program carried out for and by each neighborhood.
The new Deputy Mayor of Zagreb, Danijela Dolenec, has been interviewed by Danas newspaper, September 2020, on how Croatian and Balkan politics has shifted to the right: terms of tolerance or normalization of nationalism, chauvinism, etc. … but is the result of many years in which there has been no articulation of leftist ideas in any public space. “
Možemo! filled the void with his municipal career
Možemo! may appear to be a traditional political party, but it is constituted in a different way. It allows as many people as possible to participate in decision-making processes, to make proposals and to express their opinions through groups and local assemblies.
Local assemblies have also proved vital in the response to the 2020 earthquake. Compared to traditional parties, people can do this without the hurdle of having to become a party member. Write for Jacobin Italy, the Political scientist Chiara Milan, a specialist in social movements in the Balkans, emphasizes this point. She compares him to Barcelona En Comú, the team that has governed the Catalan capital since 2015. There too, we have a convergence of social movements with a former activist who became mayor.