Politics

Plenković Putting out Fires within his Party

By 7 May 2017

There were no raised voices, the conversation was completely open and PM Andrej Plenković wanted to hear the answer to only one question. Why now, and what is the exact reason why, after supporting Zdravko Marić and Gordan Jandroković, did HDZ Presidency member Zlatko Hasanbegović decide to be a candidate on the list of independent candidate Bruna Esih for the Zagreb Council.

Inside sources state that Hasanbegović told Plenković his decision was difficult and was made in the past 48 hours, after witnessing the “moral quagmire in Parliament” and due to the fact he is open to everyone, including those who cannot stand HDZ. The HDZ chief began to explain that the coalition with MOST simply had to be aborted. Hasanbegović asked the PM if there is a plan on what to do after the local elections, meaning who is the potential future HDZ coalition partner. Plenković answered that there is still a parliamentary majority and that the best solution is being sought, Jutarnji List reported on May 7, 2017.

Plenković then began to talk about Hasanbegović’s future in HDZ. He clearly told him that he would not be ejected automatically, despite the fact that by joining Bruna Esih he violated the statute of the party. To end the conversation they agreed to speak and meet during the coming week.

Plenković confirmed he had a meeting with Hasanbegović. “I realized he made the decision at practically the last moment, nudged by what he saw from up close in the Parliament. We will speak next week, including our colleague Bruna Esih who was elected with me in the 1st electoral unit, recommended by Hasanbegović and others, being on our list based on my trust,” said Plenković.

He added the two voted very fairly in Parliament. “I will speak to him next week, party bodies will meet and we will see what to do next. This is his choice,” said the Prime Minister and HDZ President.

The manoeuvre by Hasanbegović has clearly put Plenković to the test. The PM must decide if he will give in to Hasanbegović in order to keep the parliamentary majority or demonstrate the same decisiveness as he did with MOST ministers and eject the former Culture Minister from the party.

Zlatko Hasanbegović made his decision on political transfer last Wednesday after the parliamentary discussion on Finance Minister Zdravko Marić. Hasanbegović and Glasnović were seen by close associates of HDZ candidate for Zagreb Drago Prgomet in the afternoon hours of that day at the City Hall registering documents. Which means HDZ knew already then that something was underway.

“They either knew, but did not dare to ask as the vote on Marić and Petrov was still pending, or they fell for Hasanbegović’s ironic comment that Davor Božinović told him to prepare his paperwork, so they may have expected the government to fall and new elections to come,” said people close to the former HDZ Culture Minister.

Close associates of Hasanbegović and Esih believe he will survive the weekend in HDZ. “He will remain until Monday as there are no ejections from the party on weekends. They may even keep him according to Stier’s new political paradigm. But we doubt that,” they said.

They feel Hasanbegović made the decision when it became clear that HDZ will have a very thin majority in Parliament and the most likely scenario is new elections.

“And he would probably not be on HDZ lists, but get stalled like Glasnović and then dropped. This way he partnered with Esih for the local elections, pushing her forward. These elections will be a test of their strength and future platform,” they added and noted everything could have been different.

“If Plenković had replaced Marić or the Minister had resigned, there would be no fallout with MOST and Hasanbegović would not have stirred up ghosts,” they explained.

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