Will Pupovac Leave Ruling Coalition?

By 6 March 2019

ZAGREB, March 6, 2019 - Public Administration Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) political secretary Lovro Kuščević said that the ruling party was not afraid of a scenario in which the current coalition with the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) would cease to exist, and also believes that the SDSS leader Milorad Pupovac has no reason to be upset over the burning of an effigy of him at a Mardi Gras carnival in the southern coastal town of Kaštel Sućurac on Sunday.

Pupovac believes that the event was not about the popular carnival culture of mocking those in power but rather about a culture of deepening hate and prejudice and incitement to violence, and said that he was now at the line which he did not want to cross, which prompted media to speculate about the end of the HDZ-SDSS coalition.

Kuščević said today that he did not see any reasons for Pupovac's anger. "I think that Croatia is a society in which the protection of ethnic minorities is at a high level," Kuščević said. "We are event at a higher level when it comes to media freedoms and non-existence of censorship."

"I don't think that there is any serious reason for this well-functioning coalition to be severed," he said while arriving for a meeting of the inner cabinet in Zagreb.

The government is not afraid of any scenario, and it will do its job well until the end of this term, and also the next term, says a confident Kuščević.

Kuščević says that it is also irrelevant that apart from the Pupovac effigy, a Plenković effigy was also set on fire. This is a carnival, a Mardi Gras festival and I pay no attention to it except to the fact that this is a carnival event, he explained.

As for the case of reporter Đuršica Klancir, whose identity was established by the police at her workplace for the purpose of a civil lawsuit against her, Kuščević said the police did their job, media did their job. In this context he said that a level of media freedoms in Croatia is at an enviable European level.

The leader of the Labour and Solidarity Party, Milan Bandić, on Wednesday commented on an announcement by MP Milorad Pupovac that he might leave the ruling coalition, saying that there is no need for fear because Pupovac would not do that. "He won't leave that coalition," Bandić said outside City Hall.

Asked whether he thinks that intolerance of ethnic Serbs was on the rise in Croatia, Bandić said that Zagreb is a "multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-confessional city." "I condemn individual incidents immediately and there is no need to interpret them as the rule," he added.

MP Branko Hrg (the Croatian Democratic Christian Party) and a member of the ruling coalition said that even if Pupovac's announcement of leaving the coalition was serious, it would not destabalise the ruling coalition that would lead to a snap election.

In the situation when decisions in parliament are adopted by 80 or 81 votes in favour, Pupovac's departure from the coalition would not lead to destabilisation, Hrg told reporters outside Government House.

More news on the status of Serbs in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.