New Education Reform Leader to Be Sought?

By 8 April 2018

It seems that controversial Matko Glunčić, who has caused a crisis in the ruling coalition, will be replaced.

It is still not definitely known what was agreed in a meeting between Prime Minister and HDZ president Andrej Plenković and Ivan Vrdoljak, president of HDZ’s coalition partner HNS, at a late night meeting and how will a solution be found for the crisis between HNS’s Education Minister Blaženka Divjak and the prime minister, which has caused a broader drama in the HDZ-HNS coalition, since HNS does not agree with the appointment of conservative Matko Glunčić as the head of the Expert Working Group (ERS) for the implementation of curricular reform, reports Večernji List on April 8, 2018.

Unofficially, two possible solutions are being discussed, and Prime Minister Plenković should make the final decision very soon. “The coalition is stable, you have heard what Vrdoljak had to say. I think we will find a solution that will be the best,” said Plenković on Saturday.

However, the solution still remains unknown. Both HNS and HDZ have gone into media silence. According to one unofficial version, a compromise has been agreed. Glunčić will ultimately not be the leader of the ERS, and both sides will somehow try to present it as a step back in favour of education and the continuation of education reform. “The prime minister has agreed to give up on Glunčić, and HNS has agreed that anyone else can replace him. The new candidate will be a sole choice of HDZ and Plenković. In that way, everybody made a concession,” said a source.

It is still unclear how this would be done and whether that means that the public competition for the new ERS head would be annulled. Also, it is not known who the person in question would be. HNS has previously suggested that a good candidate would be Nevenka Maras, who has also applied to the competition.

Another possible option is that ERS would not have a chief at all, given that the education reform strategy does not mention the position of the head of curricular reform. Many believe that the position of the ERS head was invented by former SDP’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanović, who in this way wanted to control his Education Minister Željko Jovanović.

Any solution which includes the cancellation of the public competition or the selection of any other person other than Glunčić, who has won the most points among all the candidates, will represent an embarrassment for Plenković, because he often claims that public competitions exist in order to choose the best candidates in a transparent manner and based on professional qualifications. Also, Glunčić has applied to the ERS head competition after the prime minister personally asked him to.

On Friday evening, after speaking with Plenković, HNS president Ivan Vrdoljak and party secretary-general Srećko Ferenčak went straight to their party's headquarters where they met with HNS presidency members and MPs. Afterwards, Vrdoljak allegedly held a midnight meeting with Minister Divjak.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Petra Maretić Žonja, Lana Kovačević, Iva Puljić Šego).