Conflict of Interest Commission Election in Focus

By 19 February 2018

ZAGREB, February 19, 2018 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Sunday declined to comment on the decision by Dalija Orešković to withdraw her candidacy for another five-year term in office as the chair of the Conflict of Interest Commission, saying he did not know what her reasons were.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to Rijeka, Jandroković said that further steps in this process would be decided by the Committee on the Constitution, Standing Orders and Political System. He said that in his opinion another vote would be held and if the only remaining candidate did not receive enough votes, a new call for the selection of Commission Chair would be launched.

Orešković told Hina earlier on Sunday that her decision was prompted by the outcome of Friday's vote when her rival, Nataša Novaković, received a lot more votes than her. Neither Orešković nor Novaković won the required number of at least 76 votes in the secret ballot. Orešković received 46 votes and Novaković 75.

Jandroković said that the vote showed that Orešković had not lost the support only of the ruling coalition but of the opposition as well. Jandroković was also asked to comment on Orešković's statement that what the head of the parliamentary group of the ruling HDZ party, Branko Bačić, had said was unacceptable to her.

Bačić said: "There will be a third round if necessary and if neither candidate receives a majority of votes, a new call for the selection of Commission Chair will be launched." Commenting on this statement, Orešković said it was unacceptable to her because a new call would only prolong the blockade of the Commission's work.

Jandroković said that Parliament decided on office holders by a majority of votes and that in this case circumstances had arisen for a second round of vote, noting that this did not mean that the independence of the state institutions was not respected. "Institutional independence cannot apply to one person only because that would not be democratic. Respect for the law and the parliamentary majority is the basis of functioning of the parliamentary system," he said.

Asked if the HDZ's majority in Parliament was stable, given that Novaković lacked one vote to be appointed the chair of the Conflict of Interest Commission, Jandroković said that it was a very stable majority. He noted that on that same day 15 bills had been passed by a convincing majority and that all other members of the Conflict of Interest Commission had been appointed. "In this particular case, some of the MPs decided not to support either candidate."

Jandroković welcomed the announcement by associations of families of missing persons from the war that they would go to Serbia to meet with President Aleksandar Vučić. "It is our desire to shed light on the fate of all missing persons and I welcome this step because this is a very important humanitarian issue and not just a political one," he said.

On the other hand, the deputy chair of the Croatian Parliament's Elections and Appointments Committee, Silvano Hrelja of the opposition Croatian Pensioners Party (HSU), said on Sunday that the decision by Orešković to withdraw her candidacy for another five-year term in office as chair of the Conflict of Interest Commission was "a logical move".

“For me this is a logical move by someone who has made a great contribution," Hrelja told Hina in a comment. He added that it was hard to expect the ruling coalition to change their minds before the vote was repeated at the next meeting of Parliament given that they had agreed not to support Orešković.