Should Vesna Pusić Withdraw Her Candidacy for UN Secretary General?

By 23 July 2016

Former Croatian foreign minister gets just two positive votes in the first round of informal voting.

The first informal round of voting in the United Nations Security Council for new UN Secretary General brought an unexpected favourite to succeed Ban Ki-moon, Antonio Guterres from Portugal, who received the greatest number of positive votes. Croatian candidate Vesna Pusić came last, reports Večernji List on July 23, 2016.

The voting round was informal and the aim was to send a signal to candidates about their chances ahead of the formal vote and to encourage some of them to withdraw, especially if they received a negative vote from some of the permanent members of the UN who have a right of veto. Vesna Pusić did not comment on the result so it is not known whether she plans to withdraw.

The ambassadors of the 15 members of the Security Council gave to each of 12 candidates one of three ratings: “encouraging”, “discouraging” and “no opinion”. Guterres, a former socialist Prime Minister of Portugal and the UN Commissioner for Refugees, received twelve “encouraging” votes and three “no opinions”. The second best was Slovenian candidate Danilo Turk with eleven “encouraging” votes. Vesna Pusić allegedly received as many as 11 “discouraging” votes, the most among all candidates. Two votes were “encouraging” and two “no opinions”.

“This result is somewhat of a surprise, but obviously it is a result of lobbying in diplomatic circles, which Pusić could not count on because there was no government support”, said analyst Vlatko Cvrtila. However, even if the government did lobby for Pusić, the result would likely be only slightly better. Asked if Pusić should now withdraw from the race, he responded affirmatively. “I think she should. She did say she would devote herself to parliamentary elections campaign in Croatia.”

Analyst Žarko Puhovski agrees. “Vesna Pusić has a way of speaking that is not usual for politicians. She talks like a professor, and people who have power do not like to feel as if someone is explaining something to them”, said Puhovski. “I believe the government has somehow sabotaged her”, he said. “I have no evidence, but I cannot explain that the states which are much weaker had better access to people in the UN, such as Slovenia.”

On the other hand, some analysts think that Pusić herself is responsible for such result. They think that she did not take part in serious international missions and did not demonstrate managerial skills. “She failed to improve the work of the Ministry, and such news spread through ambassadors”, said one analyst.

The first Croatian Foreign Minister Davorin Rudolf was clear. “Vesna Pusić, for whom Zoran Milanović said that she was the best Minister of Foreign Affairs in Croatian history? Yes, I am surprised with the result. I am surprised that she even received those two positive votes”, said Rudolf.