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Democratic Empowerment and Transnational Threats

Croatian Struggles: To work, or not to work on Sundays, that is the question.

Few weeks ago, leading conservative Croatian Political Party HDZ (Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica/ Croatian Democratic Union) suddenly started pushing the agenda for non-working Sundays. This sparked numerous reactions: one the one hand, one part of the public was satisfied because the Government is supposedly doing the right thing and ‘’what it is supposed to do’’; on the other,  completely different reactions came from people who claim HDZ aims at the Church and religious people as their main supporters. Heated reactions also came from outraged political parties, primarily from a centre-right political party Most Nezavisnih Lista (Bridge of Independent Lists) that claimed this is a part of the political strategy to win the next parliamentary elections, and that they were actually the first ones that initiated free Sundays and they have always fought for people.

Whether agenda for non-working Sundays is pushed forward as a part of political strategy for new parliamentary elections, to create new allies and secure votes, or to favour the Church, in the end it does not matter because those accusations are covering up the real issues such law implies. One should not be in favour of Government forbidding work on Sundays by law regardless of their political affiliation.

Firstly, even if work on Sunday is forbidden, it will be forbidden only for certain professions – mostly waiters and grocery shops. Such approach opens up too many questions and the Government cannot provide good justification. Here are some of those questions. Why would Government be allowed to determine which professions deserve more benefits (in this case in a form of a free Sunday) and others do not? It is the market with its demand and supply that should determine the rules. Also, why would the Government have the right to intervene in case of more free days, but it does not fight for people to secure higher wages? If the Government can start telling businesses when to work and when not, what will the next steps be when it comes to Government intervention in business owning and operating?

These questions are extremely important because they demonstrate that growing governmental power can be dangerous. Once the public allows the Government to decide on such issues, the Government will likely take away more and more rights from people to exercise. However, most importantly, the Government should ensure the system functions properly and fairly, and it is not supposed to shape it at its own will. If such measure is taken, the line between these two ideas of governance would become increasingly blurred.

Moreover, if people deserve free Sundays, then why has Croatian Government been pushing to increase retirement age from age of 65 to 67? Because Croatian economy and budget is already struggling, and needs as many tax payers as possible for as long as possible. However, that aspect is completely neglected in the Sundays narrative. The Government has been attempting to present itself as a people’s saviour and protector whilst in long-run people will still need to work, even longer, but with fewer rights and choices.

Besides that, Croatian Government can pass a law and legally secure (some) people’s free Sundays, but what it cannot secure is businesses’ revenue not dropping, people’s salary not decreasing nor can it prevent layoffs. Hence, Croatian Government and other parties, who ignore the way markets and businesses work, manipulate the public by pretending to ‘’fight for their rights’’, yet none of the parties is fighting for people to strive and use their capabilities and potential to the fullest and succeed in capitalist market.

Capitalism is by no means a perfect system, but it is the best system people have created so far. Working on Sundays may not be ideal. Nevertheless, every employee and business have voluntarily entered into an agreement in the form of a contract and potential employee can agree to or refuse certain conditions, salary, working hours and other components listed in the contract. The people do not need the Government to fight on their behalf and that way expand its power. The people need a government that will ensure an environment where all regulations and rules are respected, and intervene when rules are broken.

Forbidding work on any day is an anti-capitalist behaviour under the manipulative wording that this is done for ‘’well-being of the citizens’’.

Ultimately, Croatian political parties have been creating a non-existing division among the public, whilst ignoring serious issues that really need to be addressed. This is not what Croatians need. Hopefully, in view of the upcoming elections, the public will wake up and see the bigger picture. It is the individual responsibility and exercising own rights that can lead towards a better life, better working conditions, improvement, and advancements in all aspects of life. Relying on the Government and allowing it to decide on everything on behalf of the people is easier because then the burden of responsibility has been taken away from the people. Nevertheless, it means people do not have as much responsibility, but they have also given up on their freedom for an illusion of security. Freedom should never be traded that easily nor taken for granted. Hence, limited Government is the solution for it, and not allowing the Government to slowly grow by overtaking one aspect of people’s lives at the time.

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