Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Opposition MP: Court to Be Asked to Test Constitutionality of COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 14 Dec 2021 - Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left Bloc (ZLB) on Tuesday said that they had collected 34 lawmakers' signatures to file an appeal to the Constitutional Court to test the constitutionality of COVID-certificates.

"As we announced before, we are sending the request to the Constitutional Court to assess the constitutionality of the decision on COVID certificates, not because of its contents, or COVID certificates as such, but rather the way the decision was made," Benčić said in Parliament House.

She believes that all decisions that restrict human rights during the pandemic, which is deemed to be an emergency situation, have to be adopted by a two-thirds majority in the national parliament and in accordance with Article 17 of the Constitution.

"Had we acted in that way from the start, we would have succeeded in creating a better way to strengthen social cohesion concerning vaccination," said Bančić and added that the Constitutional Court is expected to be a guardian of the Constitution.

A constitutional request requires the signatures of one-fifth of lawmakers. ZLB has collected 34 signatures from the SDP, Social Democrats, IDS, Centre, and GLAS parties as well as the HSS and RF, said Benčić.

She announced that they are prepared to request a test of the constitutionality of the procedure to adopt amendments to the Law on the Protection of the Population against Infectious Diseases which regulates penalties of up to HRK 50,000 for breaches of COVID certificates which will be put to the vote in the Sabor on Wednesday.

"We want penalties related to COVID certificates to be decided by a two-thirds majority and if that won't pass easily we are prepared to request a test on its constitutionality because the bill will not have been accepted with the necessary majority," she said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Opposition Says to Vote Against 2021 Budget Revision

ZAGREB, 4 Nov 2021 - Opposition MPs said on Wednesday, in a debate about a draft budget revision for 2021, that they would not support it because the expenditure was not transparent and the budget revision did not envisage the reconstruction of areas hit by last year's earthquakes or reforms. 

Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left Bloc said the budget revision was an act of capitulation by the government to the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb and Banovina.

There were no plans for reconstruction, not even public buildings with unproblematic property-rights relations have been reconstructed, she warned.

We do not know if an extension of the deadline to use the money from the EU Solidarity Fund will be requested "or how much of it we will have to return because we will not be able to use it," she said, adding that citizens were not a government priority but the purchase of fighter jets was.

Anka Mrak Taritaš recalled that the budget revision was the second budget revision this year.

It shows that the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare all the problems in the health system and that it is not managed well, she said, adding that there was also no post-earthquake reconstruction or reforms.

The results of the population census will show how serious the demographic situation is and a demographic strategy needs to be adopted urgently, Mrak Taritaš said, adding that a possible solution was to hire foreign nationals.

Domagoj Hajduković of the Social Democrats, too, said he would not support the budget revision, noting that budget funds had been spent in a non-transparent way.

Siniša Hajdaš Dončić of the Social Democratic Party said he would vote against the budget revision because of poor expenditure management.

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

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Božinović: Opposition Seems Not to Want Corruption Cases to Be Prosecuted

ZAGREB, 11 Sept, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović on Saturday criticised statements by some Opposition MPs following arrests in two corruption cases in Međimurje County. 

"I am certain that already the present and the future will prove their cheap political statements wrong. They seem not to want such cases to be prosecuted," Božinović said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

Speaking after the arrests of Međimurje County head Matija Posavec and Social Democrat (SDP) MP Stjepan Kovač, MP Nikola Grmoja of the Bridge party said on Friday that the arrests were politically motivated to "divert attention from the scandal in Kutina" involving the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, while the SDP's Arsen Bauk said that the timing of the arrests in two unrelated cases showed "a skilful manoeuvre" by the Attorney-General's Office (DORH).

Responding to these accusations, Božinović said that in the first eight months of this year the police had brought corruption charges in 86 percent more cases than in the same period last year. "This means that the police, along with USKOK (anti-corruption office) and DORH, are fully committed to their work, and great changes can be seen in this regard."

"However, no changes can be seen in reactions from the Opposition. Whenever the police and DORH do something, the Opposition immediately says that it is politicisation. I cannot understand those people at all," the minister said.

Commented on the fact that one of the suspects in the Kovač case is a police officer, Božinović said that the police have zero tolerance to any illegal behaviour. Last year proceedings were launched against more than 540 police officers and so far this year against more than 320 officers, he said. 

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

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Friday, 6 November 2020

Opposition Welcomes Changes to Parliament's Rules of Procedure

ZAGREB, November 6, 2020 - The Opposition in the parliament on Friday welcomed changes to the parliament's rules of procedure enabling, in the current epidemic, all MPs to participate in parliament sessions by sitting in several halls and following sessions via video link.

The chair of the parliamentary committee on the constitution, rules of procedure and political system, Drazen Bosnjakovic, said that the changes were in line with a Constitutional Court decision, making sure MPs were not denied the right to participate in debates.

The changes also enable the parliament speaker to authorise an MP to chair over sessions if he and all his deputies end up in self-isolation.

Vesna Nadj of the Social Democratic Party welcomed the changes, stressing that the freedom of speech was at the core of democracy.

Hrvoje Zekanovic of the Croatian Sovereignists supported the changes as well, stressing that the parliament was a place of political battle and the most important political body.

Ljubica Vukovic of the Homeland Movement agreed with the need to make adjustments due to the coronavirus epidemic but objected that party whips could speak on behalf of their parties 10 instead of 15 minutes while individual addresses would last five instead of 10 minutes.

Tomislav Tomasevic of the We Can! party proposed gradually filling more parliamentary chambers with MPs to more rationally use the parliament's resources and that sessions of parliamentary committees as well as thematic sessions be held online.

Dalija Oreskovic (SSIP, Pametno, GLAS) proposed that the decision on the expiry of the special work regime of the parliament be made by the parliament and not its presidency and that the duration of the special regime be limited to six months and prolonged if necessary.

Marija Jelkovac of the ruling HDZ party said that considering the current extraordinary circumstances, the measures taken so far had not been aimed at restricting the freedom of speech but protecting MPs' health.

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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