Dubravka Šuica: Dubrovnik High-School Teacher to Top Croatian in EU

By 30 November 2019

November 30, 2019 - Croatia has a new high-ranking member of the European Commission, Dubravka Šuica. Who is she?

Dubravka Šuica was born on 20th May 1957 in the city of Dubrovnik. After graduating from high school, she moved to Zagreb, where she majored in English and German at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University in Zagreb. Even though she was a teacher in elementary and high schools in her hometown, she is infamous in the Croatian media for her "Russian" accent and stammering during her speech at the European Parliament. Contrarily to that is her current position in the European Commission, which puts her as the highest achieving Croatian in the EU administration. 

Career journey

Shortly before starting her career in Croatian politics, Šuica worked as a headmaster of Dubrovnik Grammar school from 1996 to 2001. In the parliamentary elections in 2000, she was named a member of the Croatian Parliament, and a year later, she also became Mayor of Dubrovnik. She held this until 2009, and in the meantime, was voted in the top 10 mayors of the world (2006), as well as won an award for being the Mayor of the Year by the International League of Humanists (2009).

Dubravka Šuica has been part of the ruling HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) party since 1990, and with it, a member of the Croatian Parliament during the three mandates which HDZ won, in 2000, 2003, and 2007. When Croatia became the 28th member of the Europian Union in 2013, Šuica became one of the twelve new EP members. She was reelected in the 2014 European elections.

Even though Croatians apparently think she is doing a great job representing their country in the European Parliament and they are showing it by voting for her on three consecutive elections, Šuica is not going to fulfill her role this time around. Instead, she will move on to a much more prominent position. Last week, she was appointed to the European Commission as one of six Vice-presidents, designated to Democracy and Demography. In the next five years, she will be part of Ursula von der Leyen's hand-picked team, which will be governing the European Commission, and with it, the EU as well.

The woman who has often been called a favorite of Croatia's Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, a significant asset to Croatia's foreign policy and immense pride of her party is the same woman whose public Facebook posts are often grammatically incorrect. Recently she was the subject of mockery, as people questioned her previous position as a language teacher when she misspelled two words in a single Facebook post. 


Her three-hour-long hearing before the European Commission in October, which she barely passed with the required number of votes, happened amidst another hearing, that of her affair over her declared list of assets. Always presented as a modest woman coming from a hard-working family from Dubrovnik, Šuica became the subject of controversy in the Croatian media after her net-worth was said to be over 5 million euros.

The declared list of assets of the new VP of the European Commission became the top news story in Croatia this September, even before her hearing, in GONG's campaign, which was directed at getting the information Šuica didn't want to disclose to the public. GONG is a Croatian non-governmental organization which aims to encourage citizens to actively participate in political processes, and fight for their civil and human rights. Their first goal was to get the answers to six questions that were dismissed after the Committee for the discovery of Conflict of Interest denied access to Šuica's personal information by invoking the protection due to the fact she once worked for the Croatian Government.

GONG proceeded with its requests, and soon the news was flooded with information that Šuica's net-worth was 5 million euros. As soon as Šuica discovered it, she called it fake news on her twitter profile, which sparked further comments from GONG as well, after which Šuica even posted a picture of her house in Cavtat mocking the Croatian media.

#5millEuros = #FakeNews

Digital platforms are actors of progress, we need to ensure that they are not used to destabilise our democracies. We should develop common standards to tackle issues such as #Disinformation and online hate messages."

Dubravka Šuica's Twitter account

In her admission form for European Commission, Šuica handed over her declared list of assets, which was a bit different from the one required in Croatia because it doesn't list quadrature and value estimation of the said property. Instead, it was discovered most of the property is said to belong to Šuica's husband and retired ship commander, Stjepan Šuica.

Expecations from her position

Many of her fellow Croatian citizens are probably confused as to what is exactly going to be her role as a Vice-president of the European Commission designated for Democracy and Demography.

Some of the questions which were raised before Šuica were appointed were directed at her ability to be unbiased and deal with some of the problems the EC might be faced with, in an authentic European matter. For instance, Šuica was against sanctions to Hungary for violating the rule of law, she was against the resolution on equal pay between genders, and she rejected report which would enable tighter mechanisms for control of the protection of human rights. The only safe thing to say is that only time will tell whether she will be able to prove that Ursula von der Leyen made the right decision by putting Šuica on her team.

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