Thursday, 2 July 2020

RESTART Reps: All Eligible Voters Should Be Enabled to Vote

ZAGREB, July 2, 2020 - Social Democratic Party leader Davor Bernardic who heads the RESTART coalition for the parliamentary election, said on Thursday that he expects the Constitutional Court's opinion on the ban on people infected with coronavirus from voting.

"I expect it (the court) to give its opinion in line with the Constitution and that is that all citizens of the Republic of Croatia have to be enabled to exercise their right to vote. That is the only fair and normal thing. The State Electoral Commission (DIP) has to secure those conditions. DIP has to specify the conditions that will apply to people in self-isolation," Bernardic told a press conference.

He called on everyone to consume their right guaranteed by the Constitution. It certainly is not good that people who are infected could come to polling stations, he underscored, however, DIP has to ensure that they can vote.

"That is the point. DIP has to make it possible for every eligible Croatian citizen to vote. That is in line with the Constitution," he said and added that all citizens need to be equal before the law and the Constitution.

Commenting on DIP's recommendations and the regularity of the election, Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Kreso Beljak claimed that nobody had the right to strip citizens of their right to vote which is guaranteed in the Constitution.

"Why was the election called, when they knew what the situation was? That was the risk HDZ took and now they would like to justify that and bar individuals from voting. No, they cannot ban them. They could have held the election when the pandemic was over. They could have done anything. But they hoped to profit from the coronavirus. Well they won't," he said.

Asked whether it was responsible to call people who are infected with coronavirus to go to the polls, Beljak said that the responsibility did not lie with him or anyone in the Opposition who were against the election at this time but that that was the responsibility of those who insisted that the election be held at the height of the coronavirus epidemic and now want to ban people from voting.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Restart Coalition: We Will Pass Cannabis Law Already in September

ZAGREB, June 30, 2020 - The Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Tuesday unveiled its 'Lex cannabis' bill, which would ensure the full potential of cannabis use, saying that if the Restart coalition formed the next government it would pass the bill already in September.

The party's adviser on green development, Mirela Holy, said that retailers and large producers of cannabis already existed and produced cannabis with a low share of THC of up to 0.2% and that it was necessary to remove that limit.

Lex cannabis would exploit the full potential of cannabis, she added.

Currently, it is used for nutritional purposes for humans and animals. It can be produced with a 0.2% share of THC for medicinal purposes but only by legal entities that have approval from the HALMED medicines agency, she explained.

With such a low THC level, cannabis produced today cannot be used for the production of textiles, cosmetics, paints, cement, bio-compost used in automobiles, and space technology, she added.

To be able to exploit the full potential of cannabis it is necessary to remove that "senseless restriction," which would enable the Faculty of Agronomy and science institutes to launch research and create various types of cannabis for various purposes.

She added that cannabis is an energy plant that can be used to produce energy sources and it can also be used in tourism by branding destinations as cannabis destinations.

Cannabis is also essential in treating and relieving the negative consequences of a wide range of diseases like multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, AIDS, and various malignant diseases.

Party colleague Vesna Nadj said that SDP considers it to be key to regulate the production of cannabis that would allow legal entities, small businesses, and family-run farms to produce cannabis under conditions regulated by the ministries of agriculture and health.

The law should allow producing up to nine plants for personal use and for a maximum penalty for those breaching the law, Nadj said.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Bernardic: Our Task Is To Further Decentralise Croatia

ZAGREB, June 24, 2020 - Leader of the Social Democratic Party Davor Bernardic, who is at the helm of the Restart coalition, said on Wednesday that the coalition's task was to further decentralise Croatia and enable Istria, known for its tolerance and inclusiveness, to develop even faster.

Only investments can change the economic structure

He added that for that reason one of the first measures the Restart coalition would put in place would be for a zero tax rate on wages of up to HRK 5,000 so that workers could immediately receive HRK 300 more in their monthly wages.

The SDP-led government would also immediately reduce VAT in hospitality and tourism.

He added that one of the fundamental problems over the past four years was that the government had introduced taxation on investments or reinvested profit which, he said, the Restart coalition would once again abolish because it wanted to attract investments to Croatia "because only investments can change our economy's structure."

National coronavirus crisis management team is a political body

Responding to reporters' questions, Bernardic said that the national coronavirus crisis management team's likely decision to change the border regime with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro was belated as shown by "the escalation of the corona crisis."

"It's obvious that the crisis management team is in a fact a 'political team' because its key leaders are on HDZ's election slates. That is not good given that because of the election, they do not have time to deal with the coronavirus which is why it has spread.

"Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic should go into self-isolation. However, it is obvious that one set of rules applies to citizens and another to the prime minister and HDZ members. That is an injustice that citizens feel," said Bernardic.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

RESTART Coalition Holds Election Rally in Split

ZAGREB, June 20, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) and RESTART coalition leader Davor Bernardic spoke at an election rally in Split on Saturday, noting that the coastal city was unsafe to live in many regards.

That, he said, refers primarily to violence, lack of jobs, as well as the fate of people who had lived or were living off tourism.

He noted that Croatia as a whole was an unsafe country, with many pensioners having low pensions.

"Many people in Croatia lack safety because they are losing their jobs due to the government's belated decisions... permanent seasonal workers lack safety as well and the unemployed will not have any chance to find work this year."

Also unsafe are members of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities because they are exposed to growing violence, intolerance and hate, he said.

He also noted that 150,000 young people had emigrated from the country due to lack of prospects and that there was also a lack of legal security.

Bernardic said one of his coalition's main goals was the reform of the judiciary to make Croatia a safe country for all its citizens as well as for entrepreneurs.

He said that if it came to power, the RESTART coalition would abolish investment taxes as well as income tax on wages that amount to less than HRK 5,000.

The SDP leader also announced a 10% VAT rate in tourism and catering as well as the adoption of measures to retain jobs, including shorter working hours.

He announced the abolishment of the lump sum tax for small renters and pledged a further reduction of the tax burden on the tourism sector.

Asked how election rallies would look like considering a recent increase in the number of new coronavirus cases, Bernardic said that they had warned about potential risks but that "the government and (PM) Plenkovic made the decision, so responsibility rests with them."

The SDP believes that Croatia has to prepare much better for a second wave of COVID-19.

Commenting on a campaign during which many women have posted their photos on social networks showing them with their middle finger held up at Miroslav Skoro's statements about abortion and rape, Bernardic said that his coalition's view was that women should have the right to choose.

"Such statements push us back to the 19th century and it is good that we have ratified the Istanbul Convention and I believe Skoro and Bridge will support its implementation in the next parliament," said Bernardic.

He said that the RESTART coalition was willing to form a coalition with anyone who passes the election threshold and shares the worldview of RESTART member-parties.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Bernardic: Church Should Not Be Interfering in Politics

ZAGREB, June 16, 2020 - The leader of the SDP and the Restart coalition, Davor Bernardic, said on Tuesday that the Church should not be interfering in politics and elections because Croatia is a secular country, commenting on the recommendations by the Croatian Bishops' Conference for the July 5 parliamentary election.

"First of all, Croatia is a secular country and the Church should not be interfering in politics or in elections. This suggests that they are dissatisfied with the government because it failed to ban work on Sundays," Bernardic said at a presentation of the Restart coalition's education programme.

Speaking of the position of prime minister within the SDP (Social Democratic Party) and the Restart coalition, he said that under a decision by the SDP's main committee the president of the SDP is the candidate for prime minister.

Bernardic said that an interview with the head of the Homeland Movement, Miroslav Skoro, clearly showed that Skoro intended to form a coalition with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, adding that a vote for Skoro was a vote for the HDZ and vice versa.

Asked why he had declined an invitation to face off against Plenkovic in a debate on the public television service HRT, Bernardic reiterated that he had confirmed his participation in debates on the commercial television channels Nova TV and RTL during the official part of the election campaign.

"There is an impression that this is a competition for the President of the Republic or a tennis match between me and Plenkovic. No, this is the presentation of the best team and the best programme for Croatia. I know it's embarrassing for Plenkovic to talk about his team because 15 people have left it," Bernardic said.

As for Zeljko Sabo, who has been included on the SDP's election slate although he was found guilty of corruption by a court of law, Bernardic said that the rehabilitation period had passed.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Bernardic: We'll Have Enough Seats To Form A Firm And Stable Government

ZAGREB, June 13, 2020 - The leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Davor Bernardic, said on Saturday he was confident that together with their partners from the centre-left Restart coalition they would win enough votes in the forthcoming election to form a firm and stable government.

"Today is a very important day for the SDP on the road to a final victory at this election and I am certain that after this day we will be a step closer to it because we have the most competent people, as we showed at the European and presidential elections," Bernardic said in his opening remarks at a meeting of the party's main committee where lists of candidates were to be agreed.

He said that their mission was to ensure a better life for the citizens and that no one would stop them from achieving that. "Only together can we succeed, as we did at the European and presidential elections, riding on a wave of unity, good ideas, good programs, and the faith and vision that our country deserves better."

"That's what will happen at this election too. Rest assured that the SDP and its coalition partners will have a sufficient number of seats to form a firm and stable government. Today I am certain of a victory more than ever before," Bernardic said.

He said that Croatia needs a decent, responsible, and transparent government with a strategy to address the present crisis and with a clear vision of the future. In the past four years Croatia has not carried out a single reform and lags behind other EU countries on all criteria, while it can do better and deserves better, he added.

Bernardic said that If elected, in the first week in office the Restart coalition will extend the job retention scheme by passing a law on a shortened work week, a law on a moratorium on loan repayments, a decision for the development bank HBOR and the SMEs agency HAMAG to provide loans to small businesses and family-run farms, a set of measures for the most vulnerable social groups and a law on the reconstruction of Zagreb after the March 22 earthquake.

He said that his government would have five priorities - kick-start economic recovery and growth, boost employment, wages and pensions growth, a crackdown on corruption, implement a comprehensive digital transformation of the system, reform the state, and local government system, and reform the healthcare system.

"Our goal is a progressive, modern, and successful Croatia. At this election, the citizens will choose whether they want a Croatia free of corruption, poverty, and injustice or a return to the old ways. They will decide whether they want a Croatia without discrimination that will give everyone, and not just some, a chance to succeed," the SDP leader said.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Restart Coalition: Green Economy to Create 100,000 Jobs

ZAGREB, June 10, 2020 - Leader of the Restart Coalition and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Davor Bernardic on Wednesday announced that his government would work actively on a prompt transition towards a circular economy so that it reaches a share of 25% and by the end of the decade creates 100,000 jobs.

"Based on numerous indicators, Croatia is at the bottom in Europe in terms of the judiciary, corruption, living standards, the economy's competitiveness, absorption of EU funds, and in applying a circular economy," Bernardic warned while presenting the Restart Coalition's green development election platform.

"The share of circular use of the material is 4.4% whereas the average in the EU is 11.7%. We are eighth from the bottom with regard to ecological innovations and we account for just 38% of the EU average with regard to productivity in all sectors of the bio-economy or €13,000 in added value for each employee, while in the EU that is €41,000," said Bernardic.

The EU's New Green Deal is a key development document that foresees Europe's social and economic transformation by 2050, which means that Croatia has to work more intensively and faster on the transition from a linear to a circular economy by adopting and implementing the green transformation strategy, he underscored.

Considering that Croatia imports 50% of its food and energy, there is room in these sectors for green development and employing a large number of people, he added. 

One of the first moves will be to adopt a Circular Economy Strategy which foresees the construction of 100 bio-composting and waste sorting plants and 50 smaller bio-gas units with EU funds.

He announced that the main source of green transformation funding would be from the EU's Horizon Europe fund, in addition to state and local government budgets, the Environment Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund, the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development and commercial banks, along with private investments and donations.

SDP green policy advisor Mirela Holy underlined that green transformation has to be the main paradigm of change and that the New Green Deal is the EU's key development document which entails large investments in energy efficiency.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

IDS Joins SDP-led Restart Coalition For Parl. Elections

ZAGREB, June 6, 2020 - The leadership of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS)  on Friday decided to join the "Restart" opposition coalition led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the upcoming parliamentary elections which Croatia will hold on 5 July.

The IDS leadership said that the decision was made after a series of negotiations with the SDP which accepted all the conditions set by this regional party.

One of the conditions was that any future territorial reorganization of Croatia would preserve the autonomous status of Istria as a county.

Also, the IDS insisted on having its four candidates on the Restart slate for the constituency No. 8.

In the last parliament, the IDS parliamentary club had four lawmakers: three of whom were IDS members plus independent deputy Furio Radin as the representative of the ethnic Italian minority.

The IDS leader Boris Miletic, who is the mayor of the City of Pula, said after the leadership's meeting that he was not among those four candidates, explaining that now when the county was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, his duty would be to "remain here in Istria." 

Friday, 5 June 2020

Restart Coalition: State Has To Adapt To Needs Of Citizens And Entrepreneurs

ZAGREB, June 5, 2020 - Leader of the Restart coalition and of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Davor Bernardic said on Friday that the state has to adapt to citizens and entrepreneurs and to save their time and money, improve the quality of life for citizens and the economy's competitiveness.

"Citizens need to be offered a palette of services that will make state and public administration more accessible, save time and money and improve the quality of life and provide enterprises with a series of tools that will boost their competitiveness, automate them and relieve administrative burdens while ensuring the digital transformation of state and public administration aimed at improving efficiency and accessibility for citizens," he said presenting the coalition's digital transformation plank.

Tool against corruption 

Digital transformation is one of the basic tools against corruption. All of the state's spending has to be publicly accessible in the one place, he said. The public should know who uses official vehicles and for what, who receives agricultural subsidies and all public procurement has to be visible, he added. 

Digitisation of public administration could increase public sector efficiency by 52% by 2030, Mihael Zmajlovic said.

The ICT sector accounts for 5% of GDP and it is estimated that that share can be doubled particularly since the EU has allocated €2 billion for that sector's development, he added.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Restart Coalition Denies Negotiations with MOST

ZAGREB, May 11, 2020 - Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Krešo Beljak said on Monday that the Restart Coalition had never been in negotiations with the MOST party and denied that he had offered cooperation, following an agreement with Social Democratic Party (SDP) chief Davor Bernardić, to the MOST Party.

"The Restart Coalition (SDP, HSS, GLAS, HSU, SNAGA) has never been in negotiations with MOST nor did I say that I had offered them cooperation following an agreement with the president of the SDP," Beljak posted on Twitter.

I will not comment further on various fabrications on this topic, since this is obviously an attempt to divert attention from much bigger issues Croatia has, the HSS leader said.

It was said in the Monday issue of the Vecernji List daily that Beljak told them that the SDP had offered coalition to the MOST party, wanting to bring together, against the ruling Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ), opposition ranging from the far left to the far right.

Beljak told the Večernji List daily that he had investigated a month ago, in agreement with Bernardić, the possibility of bringing together the entire opposition against the HDZ, from the left wing to the right wing, including the MOST party, but the MOST party rejected the proposal.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section. 

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