Saturday, 28 December 2019

Grabar-Kitarović Holds Election Rally in Karlovac

ZAGREB, December 28, 2019 - The incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović held an election rally in Karlovac on Friday, her first since the December 22 election when she made it into the second round of the presidential election, scheduled for January 5 when she faces off former Social Democrat prime minister Zoran Milanović.

Grabar-Kitarović said she had chosen Karlovac as the starting point of her campaign for the second round because it had been "a fortress of Croatianness" for ages and "an HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) fortress" since the time of the first president of independent Croatia, Franjo Tuđman.

She thanked her voters for their support in the first round of the election, saying that their support was "a voice of hope and unity".

"I have embarked on the second round with a key message: let's get together as we did in the early 1990s, when we were brought together as part of all-Croatian reconciliation by the first Croatian president Franjo Tuđman. Let's do it for Croatian family, youth, pensioners, disabled people and all vulnerable groups, for our religious and moral values, the Homeland War, Croatian veterans and a better future," Grabar-Kitarović said.

Speaking of the importance of security and of strengthening the country's position on the foreign policy front, she said that Croatia should become stronger "first and foremost so that its people would live better."

"Croatia can do more and better for you, for all of us. That's why I invite all members and sympathisers of the HDZ and its partner parties, all citizens of Croatia, to choose a true Croatia in the second round. At the head of such a Croatia you will have me as your president, while I will have you as my people," Grabar-Kitarović said.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Milanović Calls for Joint Televised Debate Ahead of Runoff

ZAGREB, December 23, 2019 - Presidential candidate Zoran Milanović on Monday called on all national television stations to organise a joint telecast of a presidential debate ahead of the second round of the presidential election.

"A debate is more than necessary. In respect of citizens and the interest by all national television (stations) that wish to organise a debate between the presidential candidates, I recommend that they agree and organise a joint debate ahead of the second round of the election," Milanović posted on his Facebook profile.

The Social Democratic Party (SDP)-backed candidate says that he is ready to answer any questions by reporters from all television stations and to debate all topics that are important for Croatia.

"Therefore, I propose one debate that will be jointly organised by television stations at the national level," said Milanović who made it to the second round at Sunday's election and is running against Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) candidate, the incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in the runoff for the presidency.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 23 December 2019

HDZ ministers confident Grabar-Kitarović to win in runoff

ZAGREB, December 23, 2019 - Ministers from the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) quota in the government on Monday expressed confidence that incumbent President and HDZ presidential candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović would win the second round of the presidential vote set for January 5.

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said he expected Grabar-Kitarović to win in the runoff, and in a comment on the first round of the vote, he said that vote dispersion had occurred between two right-wing camps.

"In the first round the fact that there were two candidates on the right side of the political spectrum has caused a dispersion of votes and we all expect Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović to win in the second round," Marić said ahead of a session of the inner cabinet.

Culture Minister Nina Obuljen-Koržinek said that she was not surprised by the outcome of the first round, estimating that Grabar-Kitarović would secure great support in the second round.

"There was another strong candidate who aimed for that part of the political spectrum but I believe that voters will think about the results of the two candidates (competing in the runoff) carefully and there will be no dilemmas then," said Obuljen-Koržinek.

Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica said that HDZ members were not disappointed, but that nonetheless they had not expected the incumbent president to come in third in Zagreb. When asked what this said about the situation in the HDZ, he said that one should close ranks and support the HDZ candidate.

Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said that the outcome of the first round was as expected and that the second round was an entirely new game.

Asked if Grabar-Kitarović's result was a result of dissatisfaction in the HDZ, he said that presidential elections should be viewed separately from the situation in the HDZ, and particularly from parliamentary elections, where, he said, the HDZ was certain to win.

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said he expected Miroslav Škoro's voters to support the HDZ candidate in the second round.

"We are counting on all votes," he told reporters and, as for possible cooperation with Škoro in parliamentary elections, he said that anything was possible.

"Any cooperation to the benefit of Croatian citizens is good and that is what the President said in her speech - Croatia above anything else, unity and the interests of Croatia and Croatian citizens," Grlić Radman said.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said that the goal of making it into the second round had been achieved and that the game was about to begin anew.

Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said that he was not worried about fewer votes in Zagreb and big cities because "big cities were never the HDZ's strongholds."

Transport Minister Oleg Butković said that he believed the counties where Škoro had won in the first round would vote for Grabar-Kitarović in the runoff.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Miroslav Škoro Pleased with Results, Hints at Running in Parliamentary Election

ZAGREB, December 23, 2019 - Independent candidate Miroslav Škoro, who came third in the Croatian presidential election's first round on Sunday, extended his congratulations to the first two vote-getters – Zoran Milanović and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović – adding that he would work on "giving Croatia back to the people".

He thus hinted at his participation in the next parliamentary election.

Škoro, who won 461,448 ballots or 24.44% of the vote, said in his address in his campaign headquarters that they had accomplished a miracle.

"We have achieved a historic result. Nobody has given us such chances." Škoro said.

He also described this election as a referendum in which, he said, two thirds of voters showed their dissatisfaction with the current government.

Milanović, a former SDP prime minister who emerged as the relative winner of the first round of the election, mustered 557,900 ballots (29.54% of the total vote) and incumbent President Grabar Kitarović 503,653 (26.67%). Škoro was third with 24.4% and the other eight candidates running in the election won only single-digit percentages.

Commenting on his number of won ballots, Škoro said that those 461,000 voters was not a small number.

We have shown that we think differently than those in power, he added.

He said that in the run-up to the election he and his campaign team had exposed "an octopus of interests covering all political parties and the political sphere in the country."

škoro, a singer-turned-politician, said that he would continue bringing Croatia back to the people, adding that he would continue developing "an even better network" in preparation for the next parliamentary election.

More news about Miroslav Škoro can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Grabar-Kitarović Calls on Škoro's Voters to Vote for Her in Runoff

ZAGREB, December 23, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who is running for re-election in a second round against Zoran Milanović, called on Sunday on all voters to vote for her, notably those who supported Miroslav Škoro in today's first round of the presidential election.

Grabar-Kitarović thanked everyone who voted today, saying they had shown that it was important that the president was elected by the people in a direct election. She congratulated the other candidates on their election results.

She criticised Milanovic and called on those who voted for Škoro today to vote for her in the runoff. "I had a fellow candidate in my political spectrum, unlike Milanovic. But now we must all come together and win."

Grabar-Kitarović thanked everyone in the ruling HDZ party who supported her when she was being called out over alleged mistakes and misinterpreted, "although I've never done anything that would damage Croatia and the Croatian people."

She called on everyone to vote "for a better Croatia" in the runoff.

"That will be a vote for five years of intense fighting, intense working for our Croatia. I have shown industriousness, work and determination. My second term will be a daily fight for change in our society which, unfortunately, is still divided on futile ideological issues and historical disputes. That takes us back and we are fed up with it. We are tired of that, let's go into the future."

Grabar-Kitarović underlined the need for unity, rallying around the same goals, which she said was the key to success. "All of us, not us or them, but all of us. We are all Croatia, one Croatia with equal opportunities for all."

In this election, we are electing the person who will continue to be with the people over the next five years and who will "listen to what you have to say," she said.

We are electing a president who will come from, work for and fight for the people. And when I win your trust again, I will again fight on Croatia's behalf for a place in the first row, for Croatia, not for myself, Grabar-Kitarović said.

She said she did need more powers. "Your trust is my biggest power. You are at the centre of my programme and my policy, not I."

Addressing those who did not vote for her, she said she knew that in doing so they expressed a certain dissatisfaction. "Your message is perfectly clear to me. I've heard it, I understand it. But now is not the time for new divisions. 'Us or them' must not be Croatia's policy again."

We must not allow the destruction of the policy of unity and a return to the policy of ideological conflicts, she said. "The goal and pattern are always the same - divide and discourage all patriots and then a minority calling themselves 'us' will rule. I won't let that happen."

After 15 years of wandering, we finally found the right course and I dictated the pace of that course and will continue to do so, she said.

Commenting on Milanović's stance that the president should be elected in parliament, Grabar-Kitarović said one should wonder why he was running for president if he thought he could achieve nothing.

"Today's vote has shown that the Croatian people wants to elect its president in a direct election, but a president who will work for the people and fight for the people... I will do so in the next five years."

She called on those who did not vote today to rally around her programme. "It's a vote for an even better Croatia, for a Croatia tailored to everyone's needs, for a Croatia which believes in democracy, which wants more, not less democracy, and for a president who works, who is among you, with you and for you."

"My Croatia is a Croatia for all. That's the only path and let's take it now, tonight already," Grabar-Kitarović said, adding that she would be "the voice and the hands of the people."

More news about Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Milanović: We Are Going into Second Round But Not to War, Wars Are Over

ZAGREB, December 23, 2019 - Zoran Milanović, who won 29.5% of the vote in Sunday's presidential election, as against 26.7% won by incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, said "we are going into a second round but we are not going to war, wars are over."

"We are going into a civilised match and may the better one win. I believe I'm the better one," he said after his relative victory in the first round of the vote.

Milanović said he would fight to convince everyone for whom Croatian interest came first to vote in the runoff so that Croatia could be a solidarity state because he wanted a country of equals.

Whatever will be, will be in two weeks' time, there's no bitterness in me, but there's no fear either, he said. "I think I'm mature, ready and willing to do this job in good faith, but this is more than a job, it's a way of life."

I'm aware that not everyone likes me, but I will treat everyone as a human being, Milanović said. "I won't treat anyone with hate but in good faith. I'm aware that there will be those who won't like me, but my job is to reach everyone, both those who will support me and the others."

"In Croatia no one must come second and no one must be neglected. You have a right to happiness and a peaceful life," Milanović said.

No one in Croatia will feel like a second-class citizen

"In the Croatia in which I am president, no one will feel as a second-class citizen. I won't have the strong, financial, executive instruments to achieve that, you'll have to take my word for it, and what lies ahead is believing two candidates based on what we have done, said and achieved. In this match my chances are big and I once again call on all Croatians, those who didn't vote, those who did, to think twice, to watch the next two weeks and then vote and give me that little bit of faith without which I don't exist," Milanović said.

"When I become president, all my loyalties to anything other than the Croatian constitution will end. I will be a fervent advocate of that constitution. And that's it, that's my state, but I am not the state."

Milanović is the presidential candidate of 13 parties led by the opposition Social Democratic Party. The turnout to the polls was 51.15%. Milanović won 557,900 votes of the 3.855 million eligible voters in the country, while Grabar-Kitarović, the candidate of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union, won 503,653 votes.

More news about Zoran Milanović can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

NGO Says Presidential Elections Proceeding Smoothly

ZAGREB, December 22, 2019 - Voting at polling stations in Croatia's presidential elections is proceeding smoothly, except for two cases of delayed opening of polling stations, reported by non-anonymous citizens to GONG, this election monitoring nongovernmental organisation said.

Citizens also reported not having been informed of procedures and deadlines for the registration of changes regarding the place where they planned to vote and of changes in the address of their polling station in relation to the previous election.

"Since that it was previously confirmed that party members had been appointed to electoral committees and the State Election Commission (DIP) replaced them, we call on citizens to report possible similar irregularities," the NGO said.

GONG said that it had also received reports of organised transport of voters to polling stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The cost of transporting voters to polling stations is treated as part of electioneering costs, GONG said but noted that, in line with DIP's opinion at the last presidential election, the cost should not be treated as such if on buses there are no pictures or messages of individual presidential candidates and the service of transport can be used by all voters under equal conditions.

In the current presidential election, an increase was registered in the number of voters who have new ID cards with permanent residence addresses abroad and it was reported in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany and Serbia, the NGO said, noting that its mobile teams were also monitoring the voting process in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

More news about the presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Voter Turnout Better Than Five Years Ago

ZAGREB, December 22, 2019 - Close to 16% of Croatians with voting rights cast their ballots in Sunday's presidential vote by noon and the turnout was higher than five years ago, the State Election Commission (DIP) said.

The turnout of 15.75% is better than at the last presidential elections five years ago, when 13.19% of the electorate had voted by 11.30 a.m.

The turnout by noon in Sunday's presidential vote is 2.5% higher, meaning that 100,000 voters more voted in today's elections than in 2014, said DIP deputy chair Ana Lovrin.

A total of 3.855 million eligible voters are choosing between incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and ten other candidates.

A total of 6,533 polling stations have been opened, including 6,409 in Croatia and 124 in 47 foreign countries, including 44 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Polling stations close at 7 p.m.

DIP will release its next report on the turnout at 5 p.m.

Preliminary election results, based on returns from 15% of polling stations, will be released at 8 p.m.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Polling Stations Open for Croatia's Presidential Election

ZAGREB, December 22, 2019 - Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. on Sunday in Croatia and abroad for Croatia's seventh presidential election in which 3.855 million eligible voters are choosing between incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and ten other candidates.

The other candidates are former prime minister Zoran Milanović, singer-turned-politician Miroslav Škoro, MEP and former judge Mislav Kolakušić, former Conflict of Interest Commission head Dalija Orešković, film director Dario Juričan, economist Dejan Kovač, former MP Anto Đapić, activist and university professor Katarina Peović, MP Ivan Pernar and former Klanjec mayor Nedjeljko Babić.

Polling stations close at 7 p.m.

The election is being overseen by 24,270 observers, three per polling station on average.

Given the time difference, Australia was the first to open polling stations at 9 p.m. on Saturday, while they will be closed last in Los Angeles.

A total of 6,533 polling stations have been opened, including 6,409 in Croatia and 124 in 47 foreign countries, including 44 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The president is elected by 50% plus one vote of all who cast their ballots and if none of the 11 candidates wins such a majority, there will be a runoff on January 5 between the two candidates who win the most votes in the first round.

Election silence began at 00.00 hours on Saturday and lasts until 7 p.m. today when polling stations close.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Election Silence in Force for Sunday's Presidential Vote

ZAGREB, December 21, 2019 - Election silence is in force in Croatia on Saturday and Sunday due to the December 22 election at which 3.855 million voters will choose their president for the next five years among 11 candidates.

Election silence began at 00.00 hours on Saturday and lasts until 7 p.m. on Sunday when polling stations close.

Over the next two days there is a ban on any electioneering and publication of result estimates, previous unofficial result estimates as well as candidates' photos, statements and interviews.

In the seventh presidential election since gaining independence, Croatian voters at home and abroad are choosing among the incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Nedjeljko Babić, Anto Đapić, Dario Juričan, Mislav Kolakušić, Dejan Kovač, Zoran Milanović, Dalija Orešković, Katarina Peović, Ivan Pernar and Miroslav Škoro.

The president is elected by 50% plus one vote of all who cast their ballots and if none of the 11 candidates wins such a majority, there will be a runoff on January 5 between the two candidates who wins the most votes in the first round.

A record number of observers (24,270) will oversee the work of electoral committees on Sunday, the State Election Commission said on Friday night. The last presidential election was overseen by about 22,000 observers, the highest number until then.

Observers can oversee the work of electoral committees, municipal and city election commissions as well as the State Election Commission.

A total of 23,963 observers registered to oversee election commissions and electoral committees in Croatia and 290 abroad.

The election can be overseen by observers of the candidates, of the political parties and voters who nominated the candidates, of NGOs and by foreign observers.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

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