Saturday, 7 May 2022

New Round of Talks on Bosnia Electoral Reform in 10 days, Says Čović

ZAGREB, 7 May 2022 - Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HNS BiH) president Dragan Čović said on Saturday a new round of talks on electoral reform in BiH would be held in ten days as a result of Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's initiative to avert a crisis after the next election in BiH.

Speaking to the press in Mostar, Čović said he spoke with European representatives last night to prepare the new round of electoral reform talks, even though a general election has already been called for October and Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegović has dismissed the possibility of the initiative succeeding.

Čović said the new round was aimed at once again attempting to change the election law so that "elections can have their point and true democracy."

He said the new round was a result of Plenković's talks this week with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, and Commissioners Johannes Hahn and Paolo Gentiloni, among others.

Plenković has underlined that it is necessary to restore trust between between Bosniaks and Croats in the Federation entity of BiH because without it, it would be difficult to ensure the functioning of the country.

Čović said he expected Bosniak politicians to resist the initiative because they wanted control of the Federation, adding that no one in BiH needed that.

Asked about the HNS BiH's steps for a territorial reorganisation of BiH, he said federalisation would build a European BiH and that they would not give up on that.

He welcomed the efforts by Plenković and Croatian President Zoran Milanović aimed at achieving equality for Croats in BiH and stopping the three-and-a-half-times more numerous Bosniaks from outvoting them in elections.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Plenković Supports Janša Ahead of Slovenia's Parliamentary Elections

ZAGREB, 23 April 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has expressed his support to his Slovenian counterpart Janez Janša who is seeking a second term in office in parliamentary elections on Sunday.

"Ahead of parliamentary elections in Slovenia, I give my strong support to my friend, Prime Minister Janez Janša, and the Slovenian Democratic Party," Plenković said on Twitter on Friday.

Plenković said he had had excellent cooperation with Janša over the last few years in advancing relations between the two countries.

"We have improved economic cooperation, addressed unresolved issues and tackled together major crises such as COVID and the present energy crisis," the Croatian PM said, adding that he was confident that Janša would win.

Janša's Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and Plenković's Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) are both members of the European People's Party (EPP).

Nearly 1.7 million Slovenians are going to the polls on Sunday to elect a new 90-member parliament and choose between the policy pursued by Janša and the alternative promised by business manager Robert Golob.

According to surveys published by the Dnevnik and Večer newspapers earlier this week, Golob's Freedom Movement enjoys the support of 26.3 per cent of the electorate, while Janša's SDS is backed by 25.5 per cent.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Split Mayor: City Council to Sit Next Week; Kuzmanić, Centre Deputies to Resign

ZAGREB, 6 April 2022 - Split Mayor Ivica Puljak said that leaders of the party groups in the Split City Council decided at their meeting on Wednesday to hold a session of the City Council next week at which the councillors of his Centre party would tender their irrevocable resignations, adding that he expected the same from the HDZ councillors.

"At that session of the City Council a decision will be made to hold district elections and the proposal is that they be held on 26 June. We will propose that on the same day early elections be held for the mayor and for the City Council," Puljak told reporters.

He noted that today's meeting was not attended by the councillors from the HDZ and the HGS party of Željko Kerum, both in the opposition in the Split City Council.

Puljak said that after next week's City Council session, the councillors from his Centre party would tender their irrevocable resignations and he called on the nine HDZ councillors to resign simultaneously with the Centre deputies. That way 16 councillors would resign, which is the majority of the 31 city councillors necessary to dissolve the City Council, Puljak said.

Second deputy mayor to resign together with HDZ councillors 

Puljak repeated that he and his first deputy Bojan Ivošević would resign by the end of this week to clear the way for mayoral elections.

"My (second) deputy Kuzmanić will prepare his resignation and hand it in together with the resignations of the HDZ councillors," Puljak said, adding that Kuzmanić would do so because the Centre party did not trust the HDZ.

"The HDZ has cheated us and the residents of Split, and not only them but all Croatians, a number of times. Our offer is for deputy mayor Kuzmanić to resign together with the HDZ councillors," Puljak said, noting that that would pave the way to elections for the City Council.

Asked earlier in the day about the political situation in Split and Puljak's allegations that he was interfering in the election process, PM and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenković said that he did not know "what Puljak is hallucinating about."

"I am aware that Andrej Plenković and the government will do everything to take Split again and that in that process they will not hesitate to violate the law, which is what they announced yesterday with the opinion of the Justice and Public Administration Ministry on the government commissioner for Split, contrary to legal experts' view. We are not afraid of Plenković's and the government's interference," Puljak said.

He called the HDZ councillors in Split cowards who were trying to avoid the dissolution of the City Council for fear of voters.

Puljak also said that Plenković and the government would stall for as long as possible and try to prevent early elections in Split being held on the same day as district elections and move them to the summer.

The entire country is looking at Split and the fight against the HDZ, the clientelism, the crime and the corruption, Puljak said, adding that in parliamentary elections in two years' time that fight will spread to the entire country because "citizens are fed up with what the HDZ has been doing."

Asked if he had any political ambitions at the national level, Puljak said that Split was his sole ambition.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Government Commissioner to Run Split Until Early Election, Ministry Says

ZAGREB, 5 April 2022 - The Justice and Administration Ministry said on Tuesday it had not yet received the resignations announced by Split Mayor Ivica Puljak and his first deputy Bojan Ivošević, and that in the event of an early election, the city until then would be governed by a government commissioner.

The ministry said the appointment of a government commissioner in local government units was defined by law and that the commissioner's powers pertained only to technical governance, to ensure the functioning of local services.

In the event that Puljak resigns as announced, he would do so after less than one year in office , so an early election for the mayor of Split and his two deputies would have to be called, the ministry said, adding that the law does not envisage the possibility of the second deputy mayor acting as mayor.

After announcing his and Ivošević's resignations last week, Puljak said the city would be governed until the election by his second deputy, Antonio Kuzmanić, and not a government-appointed commissioner. This opinion has been supported by many constitutional law experts.

Speaking to Hina today, Puljak said that neither he nor Ivošević would accept any other, let alone "incorrect interpretation of the law," citing the opinion of those experts.

He said Kuzmanić would resign when the City Council was dissolved. "We know that the HDZ wants to find any excuse to avoid elections for the City Council."

The HDZ said this was "a dangerous precedent", calling out Puljak for putting Ivošević's political interest above the rule of law.

The Bridge party, whose city councillors made up the ruling majority together with Puljak until recently, have announced their resignations and called on Kuzmanić to resign as second deputy mayor.

Kuzmanić said today that he would not tender his resignation on Friday, when Puljak and Ivošević are expected to officially resign, noting that he would stay in his post until the entire City Council resigned.

He was commenting on announcements that the government would appoint a commissioner for Split, saying he wanted to know based on which article of the relevant law the government would replace him if he did not tender his resignation.

"I'm willing to resign as soon as the entire opposition (in the City Council), that is, the HDZ, resigns. When the City Council is dissolved, my resignation will be on the table,” Kuzmanić said.

Puljak announced his and Ivošević's resignation and that Kuzmanić would run Split until an early election after the parties in the City Council supporting him suspended their cooperation with him, insisting that Ivošević be removed from office after he was indicted for threatening a reporter of the Split-based Slobodna Dalmacija daily.

Refusing to replace Ivošević, Puljak said last Thursday they would both resign and go to a snap election. Puljak said his deputy did not threaten the reporter's life, that his communication was indeed inappropriate but that one did not go to jail for that.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Opposition Parties Demand Early Election

ZAGREB, 23 Feb 2022 - Opposition parties in the Croatian parliament on Wednesday demanded an early election, saying that the appointment of a new construction minister would not change anything, and corruption would continue to thrive in the country.

"The fact that Minister Horvat is no longer in this post and that an extension of the deadline has been granted for the use of funding from the EU Solidarity Fund doesn't change anything. People are still living in container homes and do not know for how long," said Anka Mrak Taritaš of the Centre/GLAS group.

"Everything has changed in the last five days, but actually nothing has changed. Now we are waiting for a new minister, and should political mathematics be the main criterion, instead of competence, a year from now we will once again have a discussion on the construction minister, unless he or she is arrested before that," she added.

Stephen Nikola Bartulica (Homeland Movement) said that regardless of who the new construction minister would be, things would remain the same. "We will continue to have a dysfunctional public administration unable to respond to citizens' needs."

Ivana Kekin (Green-Left Bloc) agreed that the replacement of one minister was not a solution. "This is not acute tooth inflammation, but a chronic incurable disease called corruption and the only way to deal with it is an early election."

Ivana Posavec Krivec (Social Democrats) said that corruption was widespread in Croatia and was affecting the government as well. She said that the government had lost its legitimacy and therefore an early election was needed.

Emil Daus of the Istrian Democratic Party agreed, stressing that an early election had no alternative. "We mustn't close our eyes to what has happened in recent days," he said.

Social Democratic Party leader Peđa Grbin said that Croatia could not function this way because the rules of democracy had been violated and the only way out of this situation was to hold an early election. He said that the Croatian Democratic Union's (HDZ) coalition partners should decide whether their priority was to save the Plenković government and the HDZ or Croatia, stressing that one excludes the other.

Marin Miletić (Bridge) said that politicians were a reflection of the people who chose them. "You who brought us here are responsible, we are your image."

Branko Bačić of the ruling HDZ reiterated that the HDZ insisted on judicial independence and zero tolerance for corruption. He recalled the opposition saying several months ago that the State Attorney's Office should be dismantled because it was an arm of the HDZ. "The prime minister found out that one of his ministers was arrested the moment that happened," he said, accusing the opposition of distorting the facts.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Bosnia-Herzegovina Croat Umbrella Association Convening in Mostar

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 -The Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HNS BiH)  started an extraordinary convention in Mostar on Saturday to draw up a document calling for the continuation of electoral reforms and warning that conditions have not been met for an election this autumn.

In a statement to the media prior to the convention, HNS BiH leader Dragan Čović said that the aim for Croat parties to gather was to "ensure complete constitutional equality of the Croat people with the other two constituent peoples in BiH."

"We want to make sure that Croats can elect legitimate political representatives at all levels of government in BiH," said Čović.

Asked whether HNS BiH would insist on the establishment of a third entity if the election law is not amended, Čović said that he did not wish to comment on speculation.

"Our message will be a sign of unity by representatives of the Croat people in BiH," he added.

The leader of the HDZ 1990, Ilija Cvitanović, who is also a member of the HNS BiH leadership, said that the conclusions of today's convention would be in line with the country's Constitution.

"With this, we are giving BiH a chance and offering our hand in an effort to define our relations on the basis of equality," underscored Cvitanović.


Monday, 31 May 2021

President Talks Election Results, Statehood Day

ZAGREB, 31 May 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Monday, commenting on the results of yesterday's local elections, that the biggest change had occurred in Zagreb.

"There is a change in Split, too, but a little different. The biggest change is in Zagreb. 65% of people voted for one group which is very liberal (...). Some of their ideas are experimental even for Copenhagen. That's a whole spectrum of green-left ideas which have found an audience and communicators in someone else, and once that was solely the SDP," he told the press.

Asked about the Zagreb mayoral campaign of the Homeland Movement, the president commented on the party's name and its president Miroslav Škoro.

"There is no homeland movement. A homeland movement can't be led by someone who fled from Osijek to America, drifting among various ex-pat clubs, but not Croatian ones (...) That's not a homeland movement, I don't recognize that. It's usurpation. That (term) should be protected, like the Croatian name."

Enforcing public holidays isn't good

Milanović also commented on the marking of Statehood Day on 30 May, saying that such "enforcing of public holidays" and of collective consciousness and emotions was not good.

He said that the date was imposed in 1991 as a holiday of the HDZ party and was later changed by politician Vlado Gotovac.

"Then comes Plenković, who has the need to prove that he has always been in the HDZ, despite hitching a ride at the last minute, and enforces, with a simple majority, a public holiday which is really a party holiday."

Milanović said he could accept 30 May as Croatian Parliament memorial day, which it had been for 20 years, but not as Statehood Day. In Croatia, one can only talk about Independence Day, which all European states have, he added.

"What kind of statehood are we talking about if it was created one Sunday in 1990 because one party won, by one election law, the majority in the parliament of a socialist republic within one multinational federation?"

Milanović said young people should be told the truth which, he added, was not bad for Croatia at all.

"Our path was just, fair, and eventually successful. As long as Croatian boys, based on decisions of Croatian bodies in Croatian people's defense secretariats, were conscripted by the JNA (Yugoslav People's Army) for their military service, it's pointless to talk about independence or statehood as the HDZ sees it."

Only when that stopped, which it did after the lining up of the Croatian National Guard (in Zagreb in 1990), not one more young Croatian boy served in the JNA, Milanović said. "That's the divide."

For more on politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Local Elections Main Topic in Croatian Parliament

ZAGREB, 19 May, 2021 - Sunday's local elections were the main topic of speeches in the Croatian parliament on Wednesday morning.

Dalija Orešković, speaking on behalf of the Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS) and Centre group, said that the results of the vote showed that citizens were becoming aware that government could be changed. She urged the opposition in parliament to begin dialogue on the reform of the electoral legislation and administrative structure of Croatia.

"We have three years ahead of us to reform electoral legislation and electoral units to make them constitutional and fair, to ensure that each vote counts equally, and to reduce the number of counties, towns and municipalities," Orešković said.

She congratulated "all new progressive forces that made it into the second round of elections, thus threatening the survival of the petrified and corrupt structures of the existing government."

Andreja Marić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) warned of double standards used by the national coronavirus response team, which allowed the opening of the borders on election day despite the epidemiological criteria in place.

"What kind of message does that send to the public? How can we expect people to comply with the measures if such decisions that mock us all are made?" Marić asked.

She recalled that medical professionals had warned that they expected a rise in the number of new infections in the next three weeks as a result of this decision. "The ruling parties heed only messages that suit them politically," Marić said.

Silvano Hrelja of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) and Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) group drew attention to the low turnout. "Those most dissatisfied again stayed at home," he said.

For more news about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

70 Cities Elect Mayors in 1st Round of Elections

ZAGREB, 18 May, 2021 - During the local elections held throughout Croatia on 16 May, a total of 70 cities managed to elect their heads in the first round of voting, while others will have mayoral runoffs on 30 May.

Of those 70 mayors, who clinched the victory in the first round of voting when they gained the support of more than 50% of the voters who turned out for the elections, 36 winners are from the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), or six fewer than in 2017, whereas 13 Social Democratic Party (SDP) mayoral candidates gained outright victory, or one more than in the first round of the local elections in 2017.

Seven female mayors winners in first round

Of those 70 mayors elected in the first round of the elections, seven are women.

According to the report provided by the gradonač portal, there is a rising trend in the election of mayoral candidates who are not members of political parties and who are introduced as independent candidates. Ten independent mayors were elected on Sunday.

Donja Stubica mayor reelected with support of more than 83% of voters

Of the winners with an outright victory on 16 May, the most successful mayor who managed to gain the largest support was independent Nikola Gospočić, who was reelected for another term in Donja Stubica with 83.01% of the voters who went to the polls voting for him. In the previous term, he was a member of the SDP party and left it before these elections.

Another independent mayor, Dinko Burić, won 82.15% of the support for his new mayoral term in the eastern city of Belišće.

In terms of the percentage of support, Darijo Vasilić of the regional PGS party ranks third, winning 80.26% of votes for another mayoral term in the City of Krk.

Of the regional parties, the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) remains the strongest. In the first round of the voting, five IDS candidates were elected mayors.

Four biggest cities to have mayoral runoffs


Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can!, New Left, ORAH and For the City coalition took the lead in the mayoral race for Zagreb on Sunday, winning 45% of votes, and will face-off with Miroslav Škoro of the Homeland Movement party (12%) in the second round of the elections.


In the biggest Croatian Adriatic city, Ivica Puljak (Centre) and Vice Mihanović (HDZ) will face off in the 30 May runoff. Puljak won 26.82% and Mihanović 23.23%.


In the northern coastal city of Rijeka, the current deputy mayor Marko Filipović (SDP, HSU, IDS, HSS) won 30.25% of votes, followed by independent Davor Štimac (16.10%).


In the eastern city of Osijek, Ivan Radić (HDZ) won nearly 39% of votes, ahead of independent Berislav Mlinarević, backed by the Homeland Movement and Bridge (about 20%), and they will vie in the second round of the elections on 30 May.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Osijek: HDZ Wins 15 Seats in 31-seat Council - Exit Polls

ZAGREB, 16 May 2021 - According to the latest exit polls, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) slate won 42.49% of the vote in Osijek in Sunday's local election, that is 15 seats in the 31-seat council of that biggest eastern Croatian city.

The coalition of the Homeland Movement (DP) and the Bridge party follows with 18.76% of the vote and six seats in the council.

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) ranked third with 15.40% of the vote, which means it could have five seats in the local legislature.

The Snaga SiB party won 6.72% of the vote, thus securing two seats. The We Can party can also count on two councilors, winning 6.04% of the vote.

The HNS, HSS and Reformists coalition would have one seat after this coalition won 5.24% of the vote, according to the exit polls.

For more news about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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