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The Croatian Party of Right ( , HSP) is a right-wing political party in Croatiamarker. The "Right" in the party's name refer to the idea of Croatian national and ethnic right that the party has vowed to protect since its founding in the 19th century. While the HSP has retained its old name, today it is a right-wing party with an ethnocentric platform.

History

Origins

The HSP traces its founding to June 26, 1861 when Ante Starčević and Eugen Kvaternik first presented the policies of the "Party of Right" to the Croatian Parliamentmarker calling for greater Croatian autonomy and self-rule at a time when Croatia was divided into several crownlands within the Habsburg Monarchy.

In early October 1871, Kvaternik and several other HSP members disavowed the official party position advocating a political solution and instead launched a revolt in the village of Rakovicamarker, Kordunmarker. The rebels declared the following aims:
  • freedom of the Croatian people from Austrian and Magyar (Hungarian) oppression
  • proclamation of an independent Croatia
  • equality under law
  • municipal self-government
  • abolition of the Military Frontier and introduction of free counties
  • respect for both religions in love and unity
The rebels also sought to encourage participation of Orthodox Serbs in the revolt, and some of them did, but the uprising was soon crushed by the authorities. Most of the rebels were killed, including Kvaternik.

In late 19th and early 20th century, the party underwent various changes in membership and policy, as different factions led by important figures such as Ante Starčević, Frano Supilo, Josip Frank, Fran Folnegović, Mile Starčević and others splintered and reconciled over time. Some of the important splinter parties were named "Pure Party of Rights" ( ), as they often vied for the title of the most ideologically pure party that represents Croatian state rights.

After World War I

The HSP welcomed the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in the wake of World War I as a means toward achieving Croatian independence, through the creation of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbsmarker. Accordingly, the party opposed the merging of the new state into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesmarker.

In 1929, the king of Yugoslaviamarker banned all political parties, and the militant wing of the HSP went underground to organize the nationalist Ustaše movement, led by former party secretary Ante Pavelić.

During World War II the Ustaše assumed power by forming the Independent State of Croatiamarker (NDH), a puppet state of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The Ustaše sought to establish an ethnically "pure" Croatian nation, and committed atrocities and forced conversion to Catholicism against ethnic Serbs and others. HSP affiliation with the Ustaše during the war severely damaged the party's reputation, from which it has yet to recover.

After the communist victory, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia established one-party rule, and thereby outlawed all other political parties, including the HSP.

After the dissolution of Yugoslavia

After the fall of communism in the early 1990s, the Party of Right was restored but it was overshadowed by Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), a pro-independence party but one whose members included former communist cabinet members from Yugoslavia. The war years were a turbulent period during which the party was involved in the creation of the so-called Croatian Defence Forces (Hrvatske Obrambene Snage, HOS), one of the first voluntary military units that aimed to secure Croatian independence from Yugoslavia. This HOS acronym indicatively resembles the Hrvatske Oružane Snage, an NDH formation from 1944. The HOS members wore black uniforms that resembled the World War II Black Legion, and attracted to their ranks many neo-fascists that boasted actual Ustaše insignia.

The ruling HDZ cooperated with them until the fall of Vukovarmarker, after which the leaders of the HSP and HOS were imprisoned for "terrorist activities" and "obstruction of democratically elected government", but later released.

The party's first post-communist president, Ante Paradžik was a political dissident during the former Yugoslavia when he was one of the student leaders of the Croatian Spring, but he was killed during the war, allegedly by assassination. His successor and former party vice president Dobroslav Paraga, who had also run afoul of the Yugoslav Communist authorities in the early 1980s, found himself in a power struggle with his deputy, Anto Đapić. Paraga and Đapić fought a legal battle for the right to use the party name, a dispute that Paraga eventually lost. Paraga later formed the Croatian Party of Right 1861 (HSP 1861) but by this time he was already politically marginalized.

The HSP is a self-identified neo-conservative party. It advocates ban on abortion and same-sex marriages.

The long-time president of modern HSP was Anto Đapić. His political reputation was severely tarnished after the media found out that he cheated to obtain his first post-graduate degree in law at the University of Split, in collusion with Boris Kandare, a senior member of his party and professor at the Law Faculty. He was also publicly accused of faking injuries to obtain the status of a war veteran. Despite these revelations, Đapić's career as head of the HSP was unaffected. Even after the party was left by many and it had terrible results (losing 7 out of 8 seats from 2003) on the Croatian elections in 2007, he remained as head of the party (he temporarily resigned, but in less than few weeks he has withdrawn his resignation).

The modern HSP regards the NDH as a just expression of Croatian national interests, and the party often uses phrases and symbols similar to those used by the wartime fascist state. Party leadership, however, has attempted to distance the party from comparisons with the NDH-era in 2003 in an attempt to attract more moderate voters.

At the Croatian parliamentary election, 2003, the party - in an alliance with Međimurje Party (Međimurska stranka), Zagorje Democratic Party (Zagorska demokratska stranka) and non-partisan Slaven Letica - won 6.4% of the popular vote and 8 out of 151 seats, all for the HSP and Slaven Letica.

At the Croatian parliamentary election, 2007, the party suffered a setback, as it won 3.5% of the popular vote and a single seat in Sabor. After the Croatian local elections, 2009, which weren't particularly successful for the party either, turmoil in the party leadership escalated when a faction led by former representatives Ruža Tomašić and Pero Kovačević formed a splinter "Croatian Party of Rights dr. Ante Starčević".

At the party convention held on November 7, 2009, Đapić officially stepped down, allowing a new leader to be elected by party members. Daniel Srb defeated two other candidates to become the new president of the party.

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