Discursive Opportunities and Demobilization of War Veterans’ Movement in Croatia

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Kruno KARDOV, University of Zagreb, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Croatia
Dragan BAGIC, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Jasminka LAZNJAK, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Research findings on social movement demobilization promote different explanations for the role of repression in killing a movement. While coercive actions employed by political authorities can result in termination of dissent, repression can also often breathe new life into a movement and lead to an increase in membership and public support (Davenport, 2015). In this paper we explore dynamics of war veterans' protests in Croatia and strategies undertaken by political authorities aiming to the demobilization of veterans and reduction of public support for their cause. We analyze veterans' understanding of politics as a field of particularistic battles and framing of their own position as national moral authority whose main concern is national interest. Starting from traditional understanding that put emphasis on direct interaction and use of force, we draw on the approach to repression as "an act of strategic communication" (Koopmans, 2005) in order to show how the political authorities strategically used non-violence and avoidance of direct confrontation as means for gaining legitimacy, exposing veterans as a violent group and subverting the veterans' movement. In developing our arguments we use examples from two massive war veterans’ mobilizations in Croatia in 2013 and 2015 and an analysis of 26 interviews with representatives of Croatian war veterans' organizations.