Jadranka Kosor: A Time for Change

By 23 July 2016

The latest from former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor on her blog, Dan Nakon Jucer on July 17, 2016.

Everything in my former party is new. New people, new time. They brought down the government in which they shared power with MOST and Tim Orešković who they discovered. As he said himself, he only had three hours to think about it, but despite this, they hailed him as the best solution. When HDZ began the operation of Orešković’s dismissal in Parliament, under the same pattern they brought in a new PM designate, alongside a politically alive PM. They convinced their members and public that they have the majority, without Orešković and MOST. The first in this was the now former boss, his recently appointed Secretary General, but also associates such as Špika, Tepeš, Čorić and Bandić MPs. But, to be honest, all other relevant members of the Patriotic Coalition assured the public they will reassemble and that the “Consultant” affair is an evil construction and that the Committee on the Conflict of Interest has no bearing here. This assurance lasted until the last minute of the rule of the former boss of the largest party in Croatia.

But, when the naked truth came out on the inability to reassemble, but also when the Committee made the decision, all those defending the boss agreed he must resign. That he must leave and thus save the party, as many unnamed leadership members briefed journalists. The loudest and most visible were again the ones who defended the party president wholeheartedly giving him full support in reassembling and dissolving their own government. The dismissed government will be noted in Croatian history as the least successful, but also the most ridiculous due to a series of ministerial gaffes, inexperience and ignorance, as well as the fact that it was dismissed by those who created it. And nothing more or less.

HDZ faces new challenges today. Karamarko was elected on April 17 as the only candidate who enjoyed the undivided support of party members, while on July 17 a new boss was elected. Elected by the one member-one vote principle (entered into the party statute in the beginning of the HDZ assembly in 2012, while I was president) and a choice of one candidate among one candidate. They decided this fearing an open game of more candidates could harm the party more ahead of elections, fearing the surfacing of information by devout “highly informed unnamed sources”.

With reason the party leaders are counting on a fast reset as political practice has shown voters forget quickly what began and how, and what in politics are consequences and what causes. But, having elections under the one member-one vote principle is now a new opportunity and would bring a new rise if there were more candidates and if every member could secretly vote for the candidate whom they support in ideas, stances, bravery and biography.

However, all that means something in that the party played publicly on Plenković. They see in him a turnaround, a new age and new chance, so other potential candidates were pressed to quit, give up ambition, push down their desires and visions. All in the name of togetherness. Since Plenković was the winner of the party elections before the voting stations were opened, the battle for the parliamentary election lists had begun.

A full party democracy in the form of choosing between at least two candidates in the largest and historically significant Croatian party would have been exceptionally important for Croatia and upcoming parliamentary elections, as the party would have a democratically elected and profiled leader (I myself, chosen by acclamation, know something about this).

When there is only one candidate left, then the voting loses sense as a matrix is repeated from the recent Karamarko election. He was so good that he didn’t have competition. So after two months they forced him into quitting as he wasn’t the best. As such, humiliated by his resignation, party leaders protected him publicly as he sacrificed himself. This was not denied by Plenković, who three months ago did not want  to be in the race and counter Karamarko. When he saw the game of dismissing their own government fell through, Plenković criticised mildly at the party assembly, without naming the person criticised. At this assembly a new HDZ Presidency was elected that will now have a new President.

The largest party votes for leadership went to Hasanbegović, who even after the boss was finished stayed loyal. He was mentioned as a possible candidate for party president, as well as Milinović who gave up his candidacy and ambitions in favour of the Euro MP. And it would have been good, and I really mean this, that all of them had gone up in front of their party members on July 17 and let them choose. Only after that would it have been clear if HDZ members had decided to be led by the generation of 2011 or those who “bled for the party for 20 years” and those who “wore out many shoes” touring all the HDZ branches in the most remote villages.

This is why, for parliamentary elections, for forming a new government, for Croatia and the future of all of us, it would be quite important for Plenković, who wants to be Prime Minister, to speak clearly about the events in the HDZ over the past four years. It is important what he thinks about erasing the party history from 1999 to 2012 on the HDZ website, as in those times the HDZ led the governments which entered Croatia into NATO and the EU. Many important events marked that era, yet the party history was erased without a single party vote against this act.

It would be important for the new leader of my former party (where I was made Deputy President thanks to Dr. Franjo Tuđman who recommended me for the function) to comment on the removal of Vladimir Šeks from the Deputy Parliament leader position, right after the new party leadership arrived in 2012. I opposed that humiliation as Šeks was a doyen, he earned that spot due to his expansive legal knowledge, he was punished only because he supported me in the party campaign in 2012.

Due to inner party democracy that is always boiling over as to how the state is run or the opposition performs, it would be important to hear the opinion of the new HDZ President about all those who were expelled from the party or left of their own accord. Or were marked as “rabbits from the SDP’s hat.” Thisis how associates of the former boss named the ones who left by themselves, such as Prgomet or Dalić, but also the expelled Štefica Madračević who founded the party in Germany in 1989.

Are all those who have an opinion, who are critical, or just defending the party's history, really rabbits from the SDP’s hat? Are those who spoke freely of their visions for the party's development really Trojan horses of enemy forces, or is freedom of speech a pillar of a democratic society and a democratic party?

Was it humanly and politically correct to declare me a rabbit of any type form anyone’s hat just because I defended myself from Karamarko’s accusations that I de-Tuđmanised and de-Croatised Croatia and defended the very positions we had in the government Programme of Economic Recovery from 2010? For example, on giving parts of built highways into concessions or outsourcing. Or on the Labour Law. I simply spoke for what was the plan of HDZ’s governments, pointing out always that equal things must be spoken of equally, both in government and in opposition.

It would be important for Plenković to position himself precisely on the change of Constitutional Law on Minority Rights and Cyrillic in Vukovar, as well as divisions in the file in the past year during Remembrance Day in that town. It would be important what the new HDZ boss thinks of changes in the Sports Law announced by the departing Šustar, or the thoughts of Mrs. Šikić on how the educated are not initiators. What he thinks of curricular reform, of lustration and traitor lists, what his position is on the selection of constitutional justices and one of them who, although an MP, falsely impersonated himself abroad.

A new direction would have to be visible as soon as he steps into the party leadership, as would openness for different opinions and patience for questions. The one who asks is not an enemy and does not necessarily have bad intentions or evil aims.

In any case, today I should be satisfied with what is happening. Today in the HDZ they are confirming as president someone I chose as deputy. With him are the ones who were with Karamarko in 2012, against me too, against Andrej and Vladimir. With him are ones who were with me in 2012 and it is nice to see this from my perspective.

But, I was kicked out in the meantime. Since I didn’t agree to keep silent on daily accusations of giving up (and past leadership as well) on Tuđman, of the party becoming like tasteless salt, while veterans were humiliated and Croatia de-Croatised. Was the expulsion in line with the Statute? Three years I have been waiting on the Constitutional Court to decide. I will hardly see a conclusion as long as one of the justices is one who ruled on my expulsion. And who was, before that, my minister, one of my favourites.

The expulsion was, true, opposed by Davor Stier, today firmly with the new President, once firmly with me. I thanked him for that, honestly touched by his bravery. Due to a difference of opinion he was removed from the position of International Secretary, but became a Euro MP. I mention him as he said somewhere today that former presidents are former leaders and will be invited to celebrations.

But, for a new direction many celebrations will be needed. It will need to be said that the one speaking can freely speak his mind publicly, not just within four walls, and when meeting a former leader he does not need to cross the street. As all leaders will be former some day, so the streets would become too narrow for such crossings.