Wednesday, 20 April 2022

PM: There'll be no Early Election

ZAGREB, 20 April 2022 - There will be no early election, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said during Question Time in Parliament on Wednesday after MP Sandra Benčić (We Can!) said that the government should go because of a string of scandals implicating cabinet ministers and the failure of the post-earthquake reconstruction process.

"We have dealt with all the challenges, and what have you do done in Zagreb about securing funds for the reconstruction?" Plenković said in his response to Benčić, whose party is in power in the capital.

Benčić then congratulated Plenković on yet another issue meant to shift the focus away from important issues of public interest, the request for a pardon for Yugoslav-era secret service officials Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač, who were sentenced to life imprisonment by a German court in 2016 for their roles in the murder of Croatian political emigrant Stjepan Đureković outside Munich in 1983.

"What do we have to do with Perković and Mustač, why are you looking at us? You should be looking at those who support you. Look at (the President's Office), that's where the orchestra is," the PM replied.

Ivan Karin of the ruling HDZ asked Health Minister Vili Beroš about health care for cancer patients, to which Beroš said that all urgent cancer and chronic patients had been provided with continued care despite the COVID-19 pandemic. "We have done all in power to ensure that all patients can exercise their right to health care during the pandemic," the minister said.

Independent MP Ružica Vukovac expressed concern about the sale of the Russian bank Sberbank's stake in the Fortenova Group to the Hungarian Indotek Group. Plenković responded by saying that the government had no influence on that decision, but that it considered it good.

"We think that Sberbank's decision to sell its 43 per cent stake in Fortenova is actually very good for the company because it is no longer burdened with the image of Russian co-ownership," the PM said, adding that the government had helped both the company and its suppliers to survive with no cost to the government.

Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said that Croatia had sufficient energy supplies and that in that regard it was in a better situation than most EU countries.

Croatia satisfies 80 per cent of its needs for electricity from its own production. As for natural gas, some of it is domestically produced and some imported, with the LNG terminal at Omišalj on the northern Adriatic island of Krk serving as an alternative supply route, and the oil terminal at Omišalj is also an important point of import for this part of Europe, Ćorić said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 21 February 2022

Left-Liberal Opposition Calls for Snap Election

21 February, 2022 - Left-liberal opposition MPs on Monday called for a snap election, announcing that they would sign a motion for parliament's dissolution following Minister Darko Horvat's arrest and an investigation into Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević.

The left-liberal opposition assessed Prime Minister Plenković's statement on Saturday, after Horvat was arrested on suspicion of illegally awarding HRK 2.6 million in grants, as scandalous and unprecedented pressure on the judiciary.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Plenković called out the State Attorney's Office (DORH) to explain its action regarding Horvat to the public, saying that it was disproportionate and that the timing of the arrest was odd.

Jakšić: SDP was the first to call for a snap election Saturday

SDP MP Mišel Jakšić said that his party was the first on Saturday to call for an early election. "The opposition has to show a high level of responsibility in this regard and that is for us to go together towards the objective of an early election and in that way show citizens that a country where ministers are arrested is not normal," he said.

Commenting on media reports that Milošević's arrest was halted at the very last moment, Jakšić said that the SDP had been concerned for quite some time now about leaks in investigations.

"We are quite concerned that there may have been some sort of bargaining," the chairman of the parliamentary Judiciary Committee said, announcing a thematical meeting of the committee this week to discuss whether pressure had been exerted on the judiciary because "Prime Minister Plenković had a very ugly attitude towards DORH and USKOK (anti-corruption office)."

If it turns out to be true that Milošević's arrest was halted by political pressure then that is a bad message, said Jakšić.

In a situation when he has to worry about the pandemic, energy crisis and post-earthquake reconstruction, the prime minister has to worry about who else might be arrested tomorrow, and that cannot be the way to lead the country, MP Ivana Kekin said.

"The only solution is an early election," she said, adding that everyone in the opposition, with the exception of Hrvoje Zekanović, seems to think that there should be a snap election. She stressed that a government reshuffle was out of the question.

"It's high time the prime minister faced the truth that his government is not functioning," concluded Kekin.

Puljak: Entire opposition should be untied in supporting Bridge motion to dissolve Sabor

Marijana Puljak (Centre) said that her parliamentary group would certainly support an early election during this greatest crisis for the country in the past decade.

She believes that the entire opposition should support Bridge's motion to dissolve the Sabor regardless of different views.

Monday, 21 February 2022

Early Election Would Mean Standstill, Says MP Pupovac

21 February, 2022 - SDSS president Milorad Pupovac said on Monday that Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević had tendered his resignation and that he felt an early election did not suit anyone, including the state, as it would mean another standstill in post-earthquake reconstruction and economic recovery.

"We need a functional and serious government. That means doing all that is necessary for the government to move without deadweight," the Independent Democratic Serb Party leader said on N1 television.

He said the ruling coalition would judge and evaluate the situation and the possibilities of effective government activity.

Asked about the deadline by which a more definitive agreement was expected as to whether the incumbent government would go on and in what make-up, Pupovac said that as far as he and the SDSS were concerned, "this government will go on."

"This government will do all that is necessary to adjust itself both functionally and politically so that it acts without deadweight, so that it acts focused on the targets it set, so that it utilises the sources so that those targets are achieved, and so that chaos in the country stops being produced."

Asked if the SDSS would keep the office of a deputy prime minister if the prime minister accepted Milošević's resignation, Pupovac said the future and functioning of the government had greater priority than who was in the government. "We will assess what is good for us and the government."

As for the vacant office of construction minister after Darko Horvat's resignation on Saturday, Pupovac said the coalition would discuss that very soon.

As for Milošević, Pupovac said he was the last person who would put someone in an awkward position.

"We respect the judicial institutions of this country, both DORH (State Attorney's Office) and USKOK (anti-corruption office)... For us, it's extremely important that everyone involved in this is equally protected, that information isn't leaked, and that confidentiality is not undermined."

Asked about a meeting with Horvat which, according to texts that have been made public, he attended, Pupovac said the meeting was held because it was necessary to discuss a now contested programme on SME development in areas populated by national minorities.

"Interest in that programme was low, it was high only from us. Milošević was at the meeting, too, and there was only talk about how to ensure the funds, whether it was possible to ensure more funds," Pupovac said, adding that it was a regular meeting which MPs can have with ministers.

Asked if that was a way to buy ruling coalition partners, given that it concerned companies connected to political parties and national minorities, he said that was not true. "The purpose of those programmes, as far as the SDSS is concerned, was not to buy a partnership at all."

We are talking about fighting for people's elementary rights and the wish to eliminate injustice and discrimination, he said.

Asked to explain why requests were made for some companies to get funds although they were not eligible, Pupovac said the position of those who made the requests was "to establish adequate regional representation."

He said Milošević had the obligation to eliminate the inequality so that all national minority representatives were represented. Milošević did not incite anyone to commit a crime and has no personal or interest connection to the people in question, he added.

USKOK suspects that Darko Horvat, in November and December 2018, in his capacity as minister of the economy, entrepreneurship and crafts, awarded HRK 2.6 million in grants to businesses in which he had a personal interest and to those for which he was asked to do so a number of times directly, or indirectly via his then aide Ana Mandac, by Milošević,  Regional Development and EU Funds Ministry state secretary Velimir Žunac, the director of the administration for assisted areas, Katica Mišković, and former minister Tomislav Tolušić.

Horvat was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of abuse of office. He was relieved of duty as construction minister by the prime minister at his own request later that day.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Grbin: Election Only Salvation for Croatia

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin said on Saturday, in reference to the arrest of Minister Darko Horvat, that after more than 20 years a member of the government has been arrested, underscoring that the only thing that can save Croatia now is an election.

"Today, after more than 20 years, a member of the Croatian government has been arrested. A minister who is in office has been arrested for something that he did as a member of the government. Not just any minister, but the one who hasn't done anything to help the people in Zagreb and Banovina to reconstruct their houses. A minister to whom Andrej Plenković evidently owes something if he keeps him in the government after everything," Grbin told reporters.

He believes that this is the time to act promptly and that the situation needs to be resolved today already.

"How is it possible for a minister who is at the police and giving a statement to do anything his job requires in the days to come without any problems? Instead, we have an arrogant prime minister, we have a man with the manners of a dictator who is bothered because his excellent week has been ruined and someone disturbed him on Saturday morning," said Grbin.

He warned that to top it all the HDZ, "a party from which we have seen this before," is now trying to implicate the State Attorney's Office (DORH) and the judiciary in the whole story.

"That is diverting the focus, that is what Plenković tried to do today and we will not allow it. Next week already the Judiciary, Domestic Policy and National Security Committee will be convened. The HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) has to say whether it agrees for the committee to be convened and there DORH has to respond to all the questions put to it," added Grbin.

He added that he expects Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj Šipek to make a statement on this case, but not in a phone call or tete-a-tete with the prime minister, but before the legislature, media and citizens.

He believes that if Horvat will fall, the whole government should fall too and after that citizens will choose who they want to lead the country.

Horvat should not be allowed to continue in his office as a minister even if he is released from custory later today, he said. "This needs to end as soon as possible and this is Andrej Plenković's responsibility."

Commenting on the extension of the deadline to use EU funds for post-earthquake reconstruction, Grbin said Plenković "crawled in Brussels" to fix what Horvat "mucked up."

"This is the moment when all this has to end and it is left up to citizens to decide in which direction we should continue. If it's true that this case involves another minister, a deputy prime minister and a former minister, a state secretary and the director of a department... literally half the government is under investigation for committing crimes. Who can say at the moment that they are running this country?"

"We have a debate on a vote of no confidence in Minister Horvat (in the Sabor) on Wednesday. There is also the situation with (Economy) Minister Ćorić where documents exist, not just depositions, on his deep involvement in corruption, as a result of which all of us have dearer electricity bills," Grbin said.

As far as Plenković is concerned, it's business as usual, and if that's the case, then Croatia is no longer a state but a failed project, yet it has never been that and never will be, he concluded.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

First Round of Elections in SDP Completed, Zagreb Branch To Hold Another Round

ZAGREB, 28 Nov, 2021 - The first round of intraparty elections in the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) was held on Saturday, and the leader of the SDP Zagreb branch will be known next Saturday, with the two main contenders being Viktor Gotovac and Matej Mišić.

SDP members on Saturday elected presidents, vice presidents and members of party presidencies at the municipal and county levels.

The second round of intraparty elections for the Zagreb SDP branch will be held next Saturday, when SDP members will choose between Gotovac and Mišić.

Gotovac, a labour law professor at the Zagreb Law School, won 524 votes and Mišić 261.

In the first round of party elections the leaders of SDP town branches were elected, with Rijeka Mayor Marko Filipović having been elected the new president of the SDP branch in Rijeka, while the SDP branch in Osijek elected Milan Blagojević its leader and the branch in Split Damir Barbir.

Ostojić, Hajdaš Dončić re-elected leaders of SDP county branches

In the first round of party elections, Ranko Ostojić was re-elected leader of the SDP branch in Split-Dalmatia County while Siniša Hajdaš Dončić was re-elected president of the SDP branch in Krapina-Zagorje County.

Also re-elected to their posts were Mihael Zmajlović as head of the SDP branch in Zagreb County, Barbara Antolić Vupora as head of the party branch in Varaždin County, Umag Mayor Vili Bassanese as head of the Istria County SDP banch, Mitar Obradović as head of the SDP branch in Požega-Slavonia County and Kristina Ikić Baniček as head of the SDP branch in Sisak-Moslavina County.

The newly elected heads of SDP branches in other counties are Ivica Lukanović in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, Jure Zubčić in Zadar County, Ploče Mayor Mišo Krstičević in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Krešimir Čulinović in Lika-Senj County, Mario Vučinić in Brod-Posavina County, Sanja Bježančević in Osijek-Baranja County, Goran Heffer in Vukovar-Srijem County, Tomislav Golubić in Koprivnica-Križevci County and Dalibor Domitrović in Karlovac County.

SDP members will choose between Karlo Klarin and Ivan Rajić for head of the SDP branch in Šibenik-Knin County in the second round next Saturday.

Elections for the SDP branch in Međimurje County were postponed due to a repeat of local elections in that county on 28 November, as were intraparty elections in Bjelovar-Bilogora County.

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Sunday, 3 October 2021

Additional Minority Elections Being Held on Sunday

ZAGREB, 3 Oct, 2021 - Additional minority elections are being held in Croatia on Sunday, with 131,000 voters electing 90 members of local councils and regional assemblies, and in Pazin, the administrative seat of Istria County, an early election is being held for the 13-seat city council.

The additional elections are held in 16 counties and the City of Zagreb, at 565 polling stations, and most of them are in Sisak-Moslavina County (84) and Vukovar-Srijem County (69), while there is only one in Split-Dalmatia County.

There are 490 candidates on 108 slates running in the elections.

The additional elections are held because the regular local elections held in May failed to secure sufficient representation of six ethnic minorities in some local councils and regional assemblies, as well as representation of the Croat communities in the eastern municipalities of Borovo, Trpinja and Jagodnjak. One Croat is to be elected to the council of each of these municipalities.

Croats on SDSS slate In Borovo

In Trpinja, two independent slates, with Krunoslav Bručić and Ruža Tanacković as lead candidates, are running for the council seat, in Jagodnjak, only the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has submitted its slate, while in Borovo only the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) is running in the election, with all four candidates on its slate being ethnic Croats.

In Jagodnjak, the SDSS is also running in the election for a councillor from the Roma minority, with four Roma candidates on its slate.

In these three municipalities, 871 ethnic Croats have a right to vote in the additional elections. Only voters who are registered as members of a national minority can vote in the additional minority elections, and they must reside in the area of the unit for which the elections have been called.

The State Election Commission (DIP) will publish the first provisional results on its website at 9 am on Monday, 4 October.

Pazin holding early election for city council

On Sunday, Pazin is holding an early election for its 13-seat city council, and about 7,300 voters can cast their ballots at 16 polling stations.

The early election has been called because after the regular local elections in May, none of the five parties that entered the city council, including the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), which has been in power for years, secured the necessary majority. Of the 13 councillors, six were from the IDS, four from the We Can! political platform, one from the Social Democratic Party (SDP), one from the HDZ and one was independent. The council was not formed within the statutory deadline even after three attempts, so the government has called an early election.

Candidates of five slates are running for a seat in the city council -- the slates of the HDZ, the SDP, the We Can! political platform, the IDS/HSU/HNS coalition and an independent slate of a group of voters led by Željko Mrak.

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Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Croatia to Hold Additional Minority Elections on 3 Oct

ZAGREB, 25 Aug, 2021 - The deadlines for the 3 October additional elections for representatives of ethnic minorities in councils in 16 cities and 55 municipalities and in 11 county assemblies started running on Wednesday, the State Election Commission (DIP) said today.

Slates with candidates running in those polls should be submitted to DIP until the midnight on 7 September, and can be proposed by political parties and by groups of citizens who want to be represented by independent candidates.

The State Election Commission calls for respecting gender balance which means at least 40% of candidates on a slate should be from one gender. Otherwise, the slates can be fined between 20,000-40,000 kuna.

Additional elections for minority representatives have been called for the units of local authorities in which the required representatives of the ethnic minority concerned was not achieved during the local elections in May.

Thus, a total of 74 seats designated for ethnic Serbs, 11 for ethnic Roma representatives, four for ethnic Italians and three for ethnic Hungarians and Bosniaks each as well as a seat designated for ethnic Ukrainians' representative remained vacant after the local elections.

 Also, Croatians who a smaller ethnic group in the municipalities of Borovo, Trpinja and Jagodnjak will elect their representatives for those local municipal councils on 3 October.

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Sunday, 30 May 2021

DIP Incomplete Results: Incumbents in Lead in Vukovar, Dubrovnik, Sisak, Zadar

ZAGREB, 30 May, 2021 -  According to first results released by the State Electoral Commission (DIP) at 8 p.m., the current mayors in several cities took the lead in the mayoral runoff on Sunday.

Thus, independent candidate Ivan Penava was in the lead ahead of Nikola Mažar of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) , with 4,542 to 3,982 votes.

In Varaždin, Neven Bosilj of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was ahead of the current mayor, independent candidate Ivan Čehok.

The current mayor of Dubrovnik, HDZ's Mate Franković, was also in the lead ahead of Pero Vićan of the Dubrovnik Democratic Assembly (DDS).

In Sisak, the incumbent Kristina Ikić Baniček of the SDP  won 3,597 votes while HDZ's Željka Josić took 3,540 votes, according to incomplete results.

In Zadar, the incumbent Branko Dukić (HDZ, HSP, SU, Reformists) was ahead of Marko Vučetić (SDP, AM, HSS, Glas, Centre).

In Pula, Helena Puh Belci of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS)  took the lead ahead of independent candidate Filip Zoričić.

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Saturday, 29 May 2021

Croatia Holding Election Runoffs on Sunday

ZAGREB, 29 May 2021 - The second round of local elections will take place on Sunday for the mayors of 57 cities and 87 municipalities as well as for the prefects of 14 counties in Croatia.

During the second round of voting, 3,231,000 citizens are eligible to vote at nearly, 5,500 polling stations that will be set up in 432 cities and municipalities.

Four biggest cities to get new mayors

The results of mayoral runoffs will show who will run the four biggest Croatian in the next four years. In the capital city of Zagreb, the mayoral candidate of the Green-Left Coalition, Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can party faces off Miroslav Škoro of the Homeland Movement party (DP), whereas in Split, the mayoral runoff includes Vice Mihanović of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Ivica Puljak of the Centre party.

In Rijeka, Marko Filipović of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and independent Davor Štimac are vying for the mayoral of this northern Adriatic seaport, and in Osijek, Ivan Radić of the HDZ and Berislav Mlinarević, supported by the DP party and the Bridge party, are running in the mayoral runoff.

Those four cities will have new mayors, as none of the incumbents are in the mayoral race. In Zagreb Milan Bandić, who was at the helm of the city for 20 years, died of heart attacks on 28 February.

The outgoing mayors of Osijek and Split, Ivica Vrkić and Andro Krstulović Opara (HDZ), decided not to run for a new term, citing health reasons.

The outgoing Rijeka mayor Vojko Obersnel, an SDP official, who has been at the helm of Rijeka since 2000,  said before these local elections that the time had come for younger politicians to take the helm and supported Marko Filipović of the SDP as his successor.

Another major cities, which are county seats, for instance Varaždin, Dubrovnik, Vukovar and Sisak will have the mayoral runoffs between the incumbents and the new opponents.

In Pula, which was run by Boris Miletić of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) until these polls, the IDS official Helena Puh Belci faces off independent candidate Filip Zoričić.

Six counties get prefects in 1st round, 14 to have runoffs

Six counties elected their prefects in the first round of voting on 16 May, when the winners won more than 50% of the ballot, and the remaining 14 counties will have runoffs for their prefects on Sunday.

Of those six winners in the first round, four are HDZ representatives: Antonija Jozić of Požega-Slavona, Igor Andrilović of Virovitica-Podravina County, Ivan Anušić of Osijek-Baranja County and Danijel Marušić of Slavonski-Brod Posavina County.

Social Democrat (SDP) official Željko Kolar was reelected prefect of Krapina-Zagorje County and Matija Posavec, an independent candidate, was reelected as the head of Međimurje County.

In the other 14 counties, the first two vote-getters will participate in the runoffs on 30 May.

Anti-epidemic measures to be implemented at polling stations

Voters going to the polls on Sunday are required to wear protective masks and they are also advised to have their own pencils. Although the epidemiological situation has improved since the first round of the voting, the same anti-epidemic measures will be implemented on Sunday.

Polling stations open from 7 am to 7 pm

The polling stations will open on 7 am and close at 7 pm. The course of voting will be observed by 8,334 monitors, and the lion's share of them have been proposed by political parties running in the elections, while a mere 17 monitors will be at polling stations on behalf of nongovernmental organisations

Sunday, 23 May 2021

34 Candidates in Local Elections Haven't Submitted Financial Reports

ZAGREB, 23 May, 2021 - The legal obligation to submit financial reports seven days before the second round of local elections has been met by 283 out of 317 candidates, the State Electoral Commission said on Sunday.

The reports, including expenses, contributions and media advertising discounts, had to be submitted by midnight Saturday.

Reports were submitted by all 30 candidates for county prefects and the mayor of Zagreb as well as their deputies, 98 out of 110 mayoral candidates and 155 out of 177 candidates for municipal heads and their deputes.

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