Monday, 5 October 2020

New SDP Leader Says Will Borrow his Predecessors' Best Traits

ZAGREB, October 5, 2020 - SDP leader Pedja Grbin has said that he will borrow what he considers the best traits of his predecessors - Ivica Racan's calmness, Zoran Milanovic's directness and Davor Bernardic's perseverance but that he will not repeat their mistakes regarding lack of communication with party colleagues.

In an interview with national broadcasters on Sunday, the newly-elected leader of the Social Democratic Party said that it was his predecessors' character qualities and communication with party members that he planned to build the new SDP on, which would then be able to deal with problems bothering Croatian citizens.

Grbin noted that the public in Croatia discussed trivial topics instead of policies and what was going on in the country.

He said in an interview with RTL that the government had not envisaged a new distraint law for next year, that a national development strategy, the main document for the absorption of money from EU funds, was not being worked on, and in that context he said that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic should start doing his job.


I haven't seen Milanovic's message of congratulation

Asked if he had spoken with President Zoran Milanovic and if Milanovic had congratulated him on his election as the SDP leader, Grbin said that he had not noticed Milanovic's message, adding that Milanovic had the right to criticism but that unnecessary conflicts were another thing.

Grbin said he did not expect the SDP parliamentary group to oppose him despite the fact that there would be some changes in its work.

The SDP parliamentary group should be led by the party president while other personnel matters related to the group will be discussed by the party presidency first, said Grbin.

In an interview with the HTV public broadcaster, Grbin said that the priority for the coming elections in Zagreb would be to gather the entire civic and left camp, negotiate and agree on how to run in local elections, set for next year.

He said that residents of Zagreb were at the moment less interested in the name of the left camp's candidate for Zagreb mayor than in fighting corruption in the capital. 

Commenting on the JANAF corruption scandal, Grbin said in his interview with RTL that there was suspicion that staff at the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor were involved in the case, noting that there were constant information leaks.

"If this society does not start to change, the situation won't get better," he said, noting that the ruling HDZ party lacked the will to initiate changes.


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Saturday, 26 September 2020

Election of the new SDP Leader Have Started at 7 O'clock

ZAGREB, Sept 26, 2020  - The process of the election of the new SDP leader started at 7 o'clock on Saturday morning at 286 polling stations organized by this Opposition party throughout the country.

The election was called for 26 September after Davor Bernardic resigned following the party's defeat in the 5 July parliamentary elections.

The five candidates are vying for the presidency of the strongest Opposition party: Omisalj Mayor Mirela Ahmetovic, parliamentarian Pedja Grbin, Krapina-Zagorje County Prefect Zeljko Kolar, SDP Split country branch leader Ranko Ostojic, and an SDP official from Pula, Marino Percan.

Some 12,000 members are entitled to exercise their voting right in this poll.

The results are expected to be released on Saturday evening.

According to some forecasts, none of the five candidates are likely to receive more than 50 percent of the vote, and therefore first two vote-getters will compete in a run-off in seven days' time.

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Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Bernardić Says Croatia Needs "Full Restart"

ZAGREB, April 29, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić said on Wednesday that Croatia now needed "a full restart", as the country simply must change itself.

"We are today aware that the things that mattered three months ago are no longer valid, we are aware of that the huge state administration is of no use for Croatia," Bernardić said among other things, after he laid a wreath at the grave of the SDP leader Ivica Račan on the occasion of the 13th anniversary of Račan's death.

Commenting on the current situation, Bernardić said that the coronavirus would go away, and the problems would remain the same.

In this context he called for "a full restart" of Croatia which had to change itself.

We cannot live off tourism and the consumption of imported products. Croatia must be fully digitised and increase local production and capacities, the SDP chief said.

He praised Račan for having been the most successful prime minister of Croatia underscoring that during the term of his government from 2000 to 2004, Croatia's cumulative growth was almost 20%, with growth rates higher than, for instance, in Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.

Bernardić said that during Račan's premiership, state-of-the-art motorways were built in Croatia and wages and pensions increased by more than 50%.

Račan, who was born on 24 February 1944 in Ebersbach, Germany, died in Zagreb on 29 April 2007, having retired from politics due to a grave illness.

After Račan's death, Zoran Milanović was elected as the SDP president in June that year beating his rivals Željka Antunović, Milan Bandić and Tonino Picula.

After losing the 2015 parliamentary election Milanović stepped down as the party leader and was succeeded by Bernardić.

More SDP news can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

SDP Unveils 10-Measure Package to Help Citizens Worst Hit by Coronavirus

ZAGREB, April 5, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić on Sunday presented a 1.7-billion-kuna rescue package designed by this Opposition party to help those citizens who are hardest hit by the crisis caused by the COVID 19 epidemic.

At the start of the news conference in Zagreb, the SDP chief recalled that due to the crisis 400,000 jobs in the country are at risk, and furthermore 20,000 workers have been already fired, while 37,000 persons registered by the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) receive the monthly dole of HRK 2,600, while more than 100,000 unemployed persons are without any social welfare allowance.

Commenting on the hardship which those citizens with blocked accounts and citizens with monthly income below the poverty threshold are experiencing, Bernardić said that the 10-measure package was intended for those out of work, social welfare recipients, pension recipients and for all "who can barely make ends meet".

Under the SDP package, 20,000 people who are now out of work due to the corona crisis would be entitled to the monthly allowance of HRK 4,000.

Those 100,000 unemployed persons who he said could not find employment due to the crisis would be entitled to the monthly allowance of HRK 1,625.

Commenting on the troubles bothering 5,500 permanent seasonal workers, Bernardić said that the SDP set of measures would provide for 3,250 kuna every month to them plus social welfare benefits to which some of them are entitled.

Bernardić said the SDP would enable 750 kuna as a supplement to each pensioner with the monthly income up to 1,939 kuna.

He said that those measures encompassed 400,000 citizens.

The SDP also proposes that pensioners with low incomes should be exempt from paying monthly TV fee.

The SDP is in favour of suspension of enforcement, the party leader said, among other things.

He reiterated that this party would insist on a year-long moratorium on repayment of loans unlike the government's proposal for a three-month-long moratorium.

More SDP news can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Bernardić Denies He is Discriminating Against Women

ZAGREB, March 7, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić said on Saturday that he was not discriminating against anyone, least of all women, and that his statement about the party's coordinators for the forthcoming elections was misinterpreted.

He was responding to negative comments triggered by his statement in an interview with Hina that there were no women among the SDP coordinators for the forthcoming elections because it was no time for experimentation and this work should be done by "proven operatives on the ground."

"These days we can see some trying to accuse me and the SDP of discrimination against women. I can see that some have tried to misinterpret my statements today as well. My statement may have been awkward, but that doesn't mean I'm not aware of women's contribution to the SDP, to the campaign, and how responsibly and hard they work on the ground," Bernardić said on his Facebook page.

By suggesting a zipped nominations model, with women and men candidates alternating in terms of their placement on the election list, "I wanted to show that I value and respect their work, and I will show that again in putting together lists for the forthcoming elections. I am not discriminating against anyone, least of all women, because women will continue to have my absolute support as they have so far. For me, more women in politics means better, more responsible and more honest politics, which also means a better Croatia."

He said he was proud and happy that all SDP lists for the Croatian parliament would have 50 percent of women and 50 percent of men, which in turn would ensure the equal number of women and men in politics.

"I call on other parties to follow our path. It doesn't cost any money, but it does cost a lot of effort, and a few bruised male egos. My message to those who are attacking me is that I will take a step further in expanding women's rights in the party by introducing a parity in elections for party bodies. Our task is to build gender equality into the foundations of our society," Bernardić said.

He concluded his post by wishing all women a happy Women's Day, marked on 8 March.

More SDP news can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Bernardić: SDP to Restore Trust in State Institutions

ZAGREB, February 22, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić said on Saturday that his party would form the government after the next parliamentary election, deal with the current "chaos" in society and restore trust in state institutions as well as hope.

Bernardić said this at an event at which he and the head of the SDP branch in Zagreb, Gordan Maras, presented party membership cards to about 100 new party members.

Also presented were the Zagreb SDP branch's draft local policies for the period from 2020 to 2030, called "Zagreb - A smart city".

SDP member Davorka Moslavac Forjan said the local SDP branch advocated a city that would be transparent, inclusive, digitalised, a city of good living and more green areas.

"Andrej Plenković and Milan Bandić are the father and mother of political corruption in Croatia. Croatia and Zagreb need a change. Zagreb must not be a problem city. Zagreb's residents pay the highest utility bills in Europe and are drowning in garbage. Zagreb is a city of false promises and failed projects," said Bernardić, adding that the city should be an engine of the country's development.

Maras said that the SDP was a leader of change in Zagreb and that it would give Zagreb back to its residents.

He said that a grand coalition between the SDP and the HDZ was impossible. "I consider a coalition with the HDZ not only repulsive, I can't even imagine it," Maras said when asked by reporters to comment on Minister of the Interior and HDZ member Davor Božinović's ruling out a grand coalition with the SDP.

Maras added that the HDZ had to purge itself from its coalition with Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić and his party.

Asked about the SDP's position on Sunday work, Maras said that one could not ban Sunday work as police, public services and hospitals work on Sundays.

He believes that Sunday work should be adequately remunerated and that remuneration should be such to discourage those who work on Sundays just for the sake of profit.

He added that the SDP would present its proposals on Sunday work.

More SDP news can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Bernardić: Big Potential for SDP-IDS Cooperation

ZAGREB, February 15, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) president Davor Bernardić said on Saturday there was big potential for cooperation with the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) in the next parliamentary election, adding that the SDP would "lead the winning coalition."

"There is potential for cooperation with the IDS because we cooperated well in the past. But we are talking with all parties with which we share the same world view, and what is certain is that the SDP will lead the winning coalition which will bring much needed change in our country," Bernardić said in Pazin, where he attended a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the IDS.

He added that the SDP was already talking with parties with which it shared the values of freedom, solidarity, anti-fascism and anti-corruption. "We will strongly insist on our programme to fight corruption and for judicial reform."

IDS president Boris Miletić said the successes of Istria County and the IDS surpassed the party and that they reflected the spirit of the local people. He said the IDS was a regional "avant-garde (party) different from others."

"We secured bilingualism, talked about a faraway Europe and advocated the then unpopular notions of anti-fascism, coexistence, multi-ethnicity and multi-culturalism," he said, adding that the IDS was alone in fighting for those values in the 1990s, yet now they are part of Croatia's legislation.

The ceremony was attended, among others, by President-elect Zoran Milanović, the leaders of the parties the IDS cooperates with as part of the Amsterdam Coalition, and Dutch MEP Hans van Baalen, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe to which the IDS belongs.

More SDP news can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

SDP Getting Ready for Parliamentary Elections

ZAGREB, February 9, 2020 - Social Democrat leader Davor Bernardić said on Saturday that in the next elections voters would be able to choose between "the SDP's vision of a progressive Croatia" and a conservative vision of individual interest groups from the current government.

As for speculations about a grand coalition, Bernardić told the main committee of this leading Opposition party that the SDP would accept only the formation of a grand coalition with Croatian citizens.

"The elections are ahead of us. One should decide about what kind of Croatia we want," he said.

Bernardić went on to say that the Croatian citizens "are faced with the clearest political choice so far: between our vision of a progressive and well-arranged Croatia in which citizens and institutions work together in efforts to address the biggest development challenges and an unruly, conservative Croatia in which the future of the state and its citizens lies in the hands of individual interests of the ruling party," alluding to the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

In the year ahead of us we must show to citizens that we are able again to take responsibility for running the country, the SDP leader said.

It is important for the SDP to offer solutions for the essential problems of citizens and we have assumed a general attitude: a rise in the living standards, which includes higher salaries and pensions, a more equitable society, which means the fight against corruption and the reform of the judiciary, he said accusing the current government of deepening social inequalities and "maintaining the economic system that does not yield results to the benefit of individuals."

The SDP will take three pillars for its election agenda: a sustainable and inclusive economy, fair and sympathetic society and efficient and accessible state institutions, he announced, calling for both economic and societal recovery.

"We are going to create preconditions for the introduction of the euro in Croatia. We will not wait, we will make decisions, we will not postpone necessary changes as we could see in the last four years," Bernardić said.

During the session of the SDP Main Committee, Croatia's President-elect Zoran Milanović, who used to be at the helm of the SDP for ten years before Bernardić, thanked the party for its support during the recent campaign. Milanović's address was held behind the closed doors.

On Monday, Milanović will relinquish his membership of SDP in line with the Croatian legislation that requires that heads of state are not members of any political party.

More SDP news can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Bernardić: As SDP leader, I Am Party's Candidate for Prime Minister

ZAGREB, January 18, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić said on Saturday in Ogulin, where the party leadership met to discuss preparations for parliamentary elections, that as the SDP's leader, he was the party's only candidate for prime minister.

Bernardić said the fairest thing to do would be to hold parliamentary elections as soon as possible as the current parliament had long stopped representing voters' will, with "as many as 28 deputies having crossed the floor."

"The ruling coalition is a result of political trade-offs in the parliament, so the fairest thing to do would be to call the elections as soon as possible so that voters can decide who will be leading the country. We are ready for the elections, whenever they are held this year," Bernardić told SDP officials who gathered for an operational meeting after last week they appointed ten coordinators for constituencies.

Bernardić believes that Croatia is at a crossroads. "Citizens have said that they want changes, the outcome of the European election was not accidental, it is a result of the SDP's hard work and great energy, good candidates and good organisation and that outcome created preconditions for the success of our presidential candidate Zoran Milanovic," he said.

He said that work on the party's platform was nearing completion and that it contained key solutions for higher living standards, higher salaries and pensions, reform of the health and education systems, and greater trust in state institutions.

"The SDP not only has policies, it has people to implement those policies," Bernardić said and when asked if he was the only candidate for prime minister, he said that as the SDP's leader, he was the only candidate for prime minister.

As for possible coalition partners, he said that those were parties from the Anti-corruption Council, the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), the Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) and SNAGA. The SDP will talk also to other parties that share the same worldview and that supported Milanovic in the presidential elections, he said.

Asked about HSS leader Krešo Beljak's controversial tweet about assassinations by the Yugoslav secret service UDBA, Bernardić said that he had condemned it in the strongest terms, that the SDP had distanced itself from it and that Beljak had apologised for it more than once, as well as that the HSS would stay the SDP's partner.

SDP secretary-general Nikša Vukas said that talks were underway about possible coalitions.

Asked to comment on HDZ vice-president Milijan Brkić's statement that Bernardić would never be prime minister, Vukas said that Brkić was not the one to decide who the prime minister would be, adding that the HDZ should mind its own business. "We will not comment on their intraparty elections, they do not interest us, we are addressing citizens," said Vukas.

More SDP news can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Plenković: I Won't Allow Croatia to Be Labelled Country of Anarchy

ZAGREB, January 15, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday he would not allow Croatia to be labelled as a country of anarchy, disorder and distrust in the system.

"That simply isn't correct," he said in parliament during Question Time after Social Democratic Party president Davor Bernardić said a recent triple murder in Split pointed to a lack of trust in institutions, which he said was Croatia's huge problem.

Citizens are bitter with good reason and side with those who take justice into their hands, which is not good. People have lost trust in the police, the State Prosecutor's Office, the judiciary and the government, Bernardić said, asking Plenković what was being done to stop the chaos, disorder and lawlessness.

"Such a generalisation doesn't hold water," Plenković said, adding that statistics showed Croatia to be one of the safer EU member states.

He said Bernardic was taking the Split case out of context. "It's as though you are showing understanding for an anarchy attempt, for taking justice into one's own hands."

"The government and state institutions won't allow that. There will be no anarchy in Croatia," Plenković said, adding that the police had undertaken many operations which resulted in arrests and indictments against many criminal groups.

In Split-Dalmatia County alone, there have been 1,823 narcotics seizures, he said, adding that the police solved last weekend's triple murder in a matter of hours. He agreed that the work of institutions must be stepped up, including prevention.

Bernardić agreed it was not good that people were taking justice into their hands but insisted that Plenković did not say what was being done and that, therefore, "nothing is being done."

He told the prime minister to look at what the people was thinking instead of hiding in Brussels and Strasbourg. People have lost trust in institutions, they can't look at the chaos, that's why whole families are emigrating, mainly from regions where the HDZ is in power such as Slavonia, he said.

"People feel unsafe with good reason. Your four-year term can be summed up with two words, chaos and corruption," Bernardić said.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

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