Friday, 14 October 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - INA, Russians and Sylvester Stallone

October the 14th, 2022 - Let's have a look at the past week in Croatian politics with just some of the stories from the political stage, the bad, the embarrassing, and the just plain weird.

HDZ earns its second worst rating since Andrej Plenkovic has been at the helm of the party

HDZ hasnt done brilliantly in its latest rating, with it being the second worst one since Plenkovic has been top dog. Index reports that in cooperation with Promocija (Promotion) plus, RTL published the CRO Demoskop for the month of October 2022. The survey was conducted from October the 3rd to thr 6th on a sample of 1,300 respondents. The standard error of the sample was +/- 2.77 percent with a confidence level of 95 percent.

For most people, the INA situation is the most important issue within Croatian politics and in the country at this moment in time, and this continues to affect the rating of the ruling party and of the prime minister himself.

Although HDZ is still the first choice when it comes to political parties for almost a quarter of respondents, this is HDZ's second lowest rating since the arrival of Andrej Plenkovic at as head of the party (October 24.4 percent - September 24.2 percent). SDP (October 16.7 percent - September 16.6 percent) and Mozemo! (We Can!) also have similar support as they did back in September. (October 10.6 percent - September 10.6 percent.

With a slight drop, the fourth choice of the respondents was Most (Bridge), slightly above 9 percent (October 9.2 percent - September 9.4 percent), and another right-wing option, Domovinski pokret (Homeland Movement), which is growing when compared to September (October 6 percent - September 5.5 percent).

The Croatian Government apparently wants to go ahead with the much talked about plans to build the country's national stadium in Zagreb, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport says no, and the City of Zagreb has been left in the dark

If you follow the world of sport, particularly football, you've probably wondered why a country so famed for its sportsmanship and for churning out top class athletes doesn't actually have its own national football stadium. You wouldn't be the only one who has asked that question. It is a subject that people have gone back and forth on for years now, and it appears that the situation is as clear as it has ever been (clear like mud, that is), as the government says we're set to go ahead with the stadium's construction, but the Ministry of Tourism and Sport says no.

A spokesperson for the Croatian Government, Marko Milic, has said that a stadium is going to be built, finally, and that it is a priority, but in just as much time as it took him to make the statement, the aforementioned ministry said that wasn't going to be the case. To say he is a government spokeperson, Milic doesn't take the stand as it were very often, and his confidence surrounding this matter has obviously confused some.

"Soon it could be a reality. And yes, I can tell you that we are going to build a stadium in Zagreb," said Milic, adding that addition to the state, other stakeholders will participate in the work, without specifying who exactly those stakeholders actually are.

Milic also said that preparations and consultations for the new budget year are currently underway, and that investments for the apparently upcoming stadium are also being taken into account in these calculations. Hr also noted that a financial framework is being sought for the construction of a stadium in Zagreb where Dinamo would play. Milic later mentioned other larger cities such as Rijeka and Split, where there are stadiums that have "national significance".

"The priority is to build the stadium in Zagreb, which is in a bad condition," said Milic, adding at the end that both Dinamo and the Croatian national team have shown that they deserve an adequate stadium.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sport was quick to deny what Milic had stated. 

"The state isn't building the stadium, nor is it financing the stadium independently, nor is this the model we're thinking about, but the state could potentially co-finance the construction and equipping of sports buildings, according to clearly developed criteria and based on the conducted tender," the Ministry led by Nikolina Brnjac stated in response.

As she explained, the draft Law on Sport will give the government the opportunity to declare certain sports buildings as buildings of national interest, but it is, in typical Croatian style, entirely unclear what the criteria for something to be of national interest actually are. Also in typical Croatian style, the City of Zagreb apparently has absolutely no idea of any of these plans. ''We know absolutely nothing about any of these government plans,'' Mayor Tomislav Tomasevic's office stated.

It also begs the question as to why this is even a topic within Croatian politics when parts of Zagreb and particularly Sisak-Moslavina County are still waiting for renovations and reconstruction following the earthquakes of 2020.

Most tries to twist the knife with HDZ by publishing a list of the party's apparently ''forgotten'' ties with Russia

Most took to good old Facebook to respond to PM Andrej Plenkovic, who, just to quickly remind you, rejected the opposition's claims that the government and HDZ were to blame for the catastrophically embarrassing and expensive INA affair, and said that the opposition is attempting to come together and overthrow the government in a joint operation.

"There are no doubts about any of this, it's all just an orchestrated operation and the actions of very clearly visible and recognisable actors, we just have to see how much of it is internal, and how much is external. That's the only question we still need to look at in a little more detail, but we'll examine that too," Plenkovic said.

Most then made a list of links between HDZ and Russia.

"Here are all of HDZ's ''forgotten' connections with the Russians. Since HDZ is trying to move away from the topic of its corruption and high treason in regard to INA to the topic of Russian players, mercenaries and Russian influence, we'll be very happy to oblige and remind them a little about their own connections:

- HDZ borrowed 4.2 million kuna from the company Gas trading d.o.o., owned by PPD, which in turn created its wealth from the sale of Russian gas.

- HDZ negotiated for a long time with Ivan Vrdoljak about ousting Most so that HNS, which was connected to Russian capital through Vrdoljak, would take its place. By the way, Ivan Vrdoljak asked the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) in a written document to give the Russian tycoons Grigory Edel and Mihail Zhukov Croatian citizenship, which they needed to break through Russian capital of dubious origins, which was, strangely enough, linked to Oksana Dvinski, HDZ's great "benefactor".

- HDZ minister Zdravko Maric came into his job [as finance minister] from Agrokor came and stayed with the government after securing Russian money from Russian banks for Agrokor. At the same time, Agrokor was a donor to HDZ through various different companies.

- HDZ's Minister of Construction Ivan Paladina has business ties to Russian tycoons, especially to Sergey Glyadelkin, who is connected to the Russian secret service.

- The Russian Foundation called ''New Generation'', led by the already mentioned Russian citizen Oksana Dvinski, the wife of Maksim Poletaev, was a donor to HDZ with 2.6 million kuna after completion.

- The HDZ government awarded the contract for the overhaul of the Mi-171Sh helicopter worth 206.9 million kuna to the Russians, and that overhaul turned out to be very problematic.

As you can see, HDZ members are the last ones who should be talking about Russian mercenaries," Most concluded in their rather damning Facebook post.

An HDZ parliamentarian claims that his role model is Sylvester Stallone

What does the world of Croatian politics and Hollywood have in common? Apparently more than you'd think, and not just because of the endless drama. HDZ Parliamentarian Ante Bacic Baco, who is enrolled in military school and attends it with HV officers, once told Dalmatinski portal that his role model is actor Sylvester Stallone.

"I like such people who don't really have the prerequisites to succeed, but still succeed with motivation and persistent effort," Ante explained, saying that Stallone inspires him because of that fact.

His life motto is, as he said in an interview: "Keep punching" - a statement from the classic Stallone movie, Rocky.

Aside from idolising Rocky, Baco has been quite the hot topic of sorts over more recent weeks. President Zoran Milanovic commented on his enrollment in the "Ban Josip Jelacic" War School, judging that it was "a criminal offense because there's no place in the war school for parliamentarians, who by definition are state officials".

"If they don't withdraw, we'll report them and I will personally forbid the entry of such people into the premises of the Croatian Army,'' Milanovic said of the matter.

Following Ivo Sanader's acquital, President Zoran Milanovic wasted no time in claiming that while Sanader was a thief ''solely for his own gain'', HDZ has advanced its tactics of theft

Zoran Milanovic and Andrej Plenkovic make very little effort (if any) to hide their utter disdain for each other. The pair frequently come to blows (not literally of course, Sylvester Stallone isn't involved in this particular feud), and Milanovic has quite the way with words when it comes to insults and being a troll. One may hope the pair would have more pressing issues to tackle, but I digress.

Milanovic was quick to hop on the band wagon in regard to the massive INA scandal, of course blaming HDZ entirely, and claiming that while Ivo Sanader was indeed a thief, he was in it for himself, unlike HDZ which he claims has ''improved its methods'' of theft.

"The story surrounding INA is the story of HDZ. All these slurs about Russian people are attempts by Plenkovic's martyrs to bury that story with whitewash. But that isn't going to work, it doesn't work because these things are just obvious. Did HDZ set up people there? Is Skugor connected to the top people within HDZ? Yes. Was he going to get rich in this underhanded way? Did he panic because he got too rich? Was the gas sold through the county company where Banozic is? Those are the facts," he said.

"Ivo Sanader fell like the greedy private thief he was, but he stole for himself. He was accused in the way in which he stole. HDZ was declared to be an organisation of robbers. They didn't learn anything [from matters involving Sanader], they just improved their techniques when it comes to robbing. Plenkovic ignores it all, but to me that just means he supports it," Milanovic said.

For more on Croatian politics, keep up with our Week in Croatian Politics articles which will be published every Friday.

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

As Peljesac Bridge Opens, Does HDZ or SDP Deserve the Most Praise?

July the 26th, 2022 - As Peljesac bridge opens after what seems like an endless wait, which government actually deserves the most praise? While SDP is responsible in the most part for pushing forward with the EU, HDZ was the one to sign the final agreement.

As Faktograf/Sanja Despot writes, with both HDZ and SDP having played their respective roles, Peljesac bridge opens not only itself, but many questions about precisely who the most praise should be directed at. Competitive discussions about whose government is most responsible for its construction have started up again.

President Zoran Milanovic (SDP) stated that he started working on the bridge's implementation back in 2012, claiming that it is indeed true that he questioned whether or not it was a profitable investment, but that he asked those questions during the period from 2005 to 2011, and not back in 2012.

"My team and I participated in the realisation of this bridge, practically in a 95 percent way. Everything was over when I handed over the post of prime minister," he said and added that it all started with Ivan Sprlje, the former prefect of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, who spoke about the idea way back during his 1997 campaign.

When asked to comment on the president's statement that SDP is responsible for this enormous project, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said: "They're one hundred percent responsible. They messed around to try to ensure that nothing came of it,''

It's fairly easy to find Milanovic's quote from back in July 2015 on the Croatian Government's website, on the eve of the parliamentary elections that took place that year. Milanovic then said that "Peljesac bridge will be built regardless of who wins the elections", and that, as he said, "no one can blow it anymore, and they blew it for five years straight".

It's worth noting that the European Union (EU) didn't simply decide out of nowhere to provide the funds for the construction of the bridge back in 2016 when HDZ returned to power.

Back in July 2015, then Prime Minister Milanovic, together with ministers Branko Grcic and Sinisa Hajdas Doncic, presented the project to connect the extreme south of Croatia with the Peljesac bridge, saying that the idea of a bridge was chosen as the best option by those who decided on it all in the European Union.

The then Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Hajdas Doncic, said that the Peljesac bridge construction project inherited from the previous government was oversized and too expensive, which is why Milanovic's government terminated the contracts with the contractors in 2012. He added that after that, through OP traffic in 2007-2013, they were provided money for the pre-feasibility study and said that in parallel, through OP Cohesion and Competitiveness, in the part concerning transport for the financial period 2014-2020, funds were provided for connecting the isolated part of the Republic of Croatia (southern Dalmatia) to the rest of the country. Through European Union funding, Croatian Roads (Hrvatske ceste), as the project holder, contracted the feasibility studies.

On that occasion, Hajdas Doncic recalled that several connection solutions were considered, stressing that as the best solution, the Peljesac bridge project with all of its connecting roads received the best marks and was identified as a project that would meet all the set goals.

"The bridge can apply for cash from European Union funds on the condition that we prepare the studies that show that this is the best solution", said the Minister of Foreign Affairs Vesna Pusic back in 2012, before Croatia formally entered the European Union on July the 1st, 2013, which was also during the mandate of former Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic. Pusic had then hoped that it could be financed from the IPA pre-accession fund.

In 2013, a preliminary feasibility study was carried out, financed by the European Commission (EC), which concluded that the best solution of all options for connecting the extreme south of the country was indeed a bridge.

During 2014 and 2015, once again during the mandate of Milanovic's government, a feasibility study was carried out, which was financed by EU funds, and which also confirmed that the best solution was the construction of Peljesac bridge. Then, at the end of 2016, confirmation was received from the EU that the project was ready for application for co-financing in the maximum amount of 85 percent. Finally, on June the 7th, 2017, a formal decision was made by the European Commission to co-finance the construction of the huge structure with 357 million euros.

In the spring of 2018, the then HDZ Minister of Regional Funds, Gabrijela Zalac, signed the contract on the construction of the bridge, which was worth over 2 billion kuna, between Croatian Roads and the Chinese consortium led by the China Road and Bridge Corporation.

Regarding the part of Milanovic's statement that Ivan Sprlje, the late SDP prefect of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, was the initiator of the idea of ​​building the bridge, it should be noted that SDP and HDZ are persistently competing for the right of precedence, each with their own arguments. SDP claimed that Sprlje was the first to present the idea in his campaign, that is, they refer to the exact information that he was the first to draw up the bridge in the spatial plan, and from HDZ, they highlight the role of Luka Bebic, who was the first to speak about it in Parliament for HDZ in 1998.

It's a fact that in the years leading up to the moment when Peljesac bridge finally opens, SDP wasn't entirely sure whether or not it should dive in with that project, until the party took over the government, that is. It's also true that former HDZ Prime Minister Ivo Sanader "rather emptily" started his work on the bridge as part of his PR campaigns.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Bauk: Referendum Changes, Abortion Rights to Enter Constitution One Way or Another

ZAGREB, 9 June 2022 - Representatives of the Social Democratic Party, Social Democrats, and the Green-Left Bloc on Thursday talked with the ruling HDZ's whip, and Arsen Bauk of the SDP is confident that both referendum changes and the right to abortion will end up in the Constitution "one way or another."

Speaking after a meeting between HDZ representatives and left MPs on constitutional changes, Bauk said the changes pertaining to referenda would pass, while talks would continue on the other topics.

He said that if their demand that a woman's right to choose to be raised to a constitutional level did not pass in parliament, there would be a referendum on it.

As for the part concerning referenda, most of it coincides with our proposals for changing the Constitution from 2013 and 2018, and potential differences are not such that we could say they pose a big problem, Bauk said.

We expressed our concern about the violation of certain rights and would like to raise them to a constitutional level, and the HDZ took note of it, he added.

Asked if making a women's right to choose the part of the Constitution would be a condition to endorse the HDZ's proposed referendum changes, Bauk said such things should be said at meetings, not via the media.

Social Democrats whip Ivana Posavec Krivec said there was nothing contentious in those changes and that their MPs would take part in the second round of talks in a few days' time.

The Social Democrats have no questions to raise concerning constitutional changes nor conditions, and will support embarking on those changes, she added.

HDZ whip Branko Bačić held separate meetings with the left and right opposition.

Stephen Bartulica of the Homeland Movement said it was necessary to redefine referendum regulations. The approach should be serious and the broadest consensus reached, he added.

The HDZ can count on our constructive approach, but we have not made the final decision, he said, adding that it should be made easier for citizens to organize if they wish to do so.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

SDP Leader Says Government Unwilling to Amend Labour Act

ZAGREB, 30 April 2022 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin on Saturday distributed carnations and socialised with citizens in Pula ahead of International Workers' Day, noting that the incumbent government was not willing to launch a comprehensive reform of the Labour Act announced over six months ago.

"According to recent EU statistics, Croatia is close to the bottom of the EU ranking in terms of employment and that is what we need to talk about, not just when we observe International Workers' Day but throughout the year," Grbin said, recalling that a comprehensive reform of the labour law was announced more than half a year ago but that it was not happening.

"This government is not willing to do it and lacks the capacity. It has changed the minister who should be in charge of the reform, a new one has been appointed who knows nothing about work and workers, and the problems are staying," he said, adding that data for February showed that regardless of a rise in absolute figures, the real value of wages had dropped over the past year.

"We should all focus on maintaining the value of income, of preserving the value of wages and pensions as well as on dealing with problems such as compensation for overtime work, work on Sundays and holidays and higher wages," Grbin said, adding that the reality was such that workers were still exploited.

He also called for amending the Pension Act to ensure adequate indexation of pensions to prevent their losing in value due to growing inflation.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

SDP Condemns Statement by War Veterans Minister's Envoy

ZAGREB, 10 April 2022 - The Social Democratic Party on Sunday condemned a statement by the War Veterans Minister's envoy, Matko Raos, who at a commemoration for a Croatian Defence Forces (HOS) unit in Split said that "today's Croatia would not exist if it had not been for 10 April 1941."

The SDP also called on the government to distance itself from Raos' statement.

Earlier on Sunday, during a ceremony at which wreaths were laid at a memorial to members of the HOS 9th Battalion "Rafael vitez Boban" killed in the 1991-95 Homeland War, Raos said: "You have to know, if it had not been for 10 April 1941, today's Croatia would not exist."

On 10 April 1941 the establishment of the quisling Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was proclaimed.

The SDP condemns the gathering in Split and the statement made by Brigadier Matko Raos, envoy for War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved, the opposition party said in a statement signed by SDP vice-president Ranko Ostojić.

"Putting the Homeland War and the establishment of today's Croatia in the same context with the criminal Independent State of Croatia, a quisling entity, is unacceptable. Croatia, just like the whole of free Europe, was founded on values of antifascism, as defined by our constitution, and we should be proud of that," Ostojić said.

"That people who represent the minister and the government have such a view is unacceptable. We call on the minister and the government to distance themselves from the event and their envoy's statement," the SDP said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

SDP Main Committee Says Government Should Resign

ZAGREB, 12 March 2022 - The Social Democratic Party's Main Committee on Saturday supported the SDP parliamentary group in a motion to dissolve parliament, and concluded that the government cannot become better by changing a minister or two, that it is spent, does not govern well, and should step down.

Crises can no longer be an alibi for politically unsuccessful action, Main Committee chair Marija Lugarić told the press.

The committee concluded that the government's anti-inflation measures are not enough as they do not take into account the aggression on Ukraine and the war's impact on inflation. 

SDP president Peđa Grbin said the party was proposing to index pensions either with salary or inflation growth and to abolish VAT on fuel excises.

He said it was time to start talking about a new economic model which would not rest solely on tourism.

Commenting on a drone which crashed in Zagreb on Thursday night, Grbin said something was not working security-wise nor in communication with the neighbours. Hungary should have notified us that the drone had crossed their territory, he added.

Grbin said he expected the prime minister to say clearly what went wrong and how he would prevent such things from happening again. If it happens again, the reaction should be much faster and more organised, and citizens should be informed better so that there is no panic, he added.

Grbin said he expected NATO to investigate the matter and say clearly why the information system failed.

"If the drone ended up in Croatia by accident, that's not good because the warning system failed, and if it was by accident, that's very, very bad because it means that not only Croatia but NATO, too, have somehow been dragged into the conflict," he added. 

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.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

MPs Criticise Grbin for Taking a Living Away from Home Allowance

ZAGREB, 16 Feb 2022 - MPs on Wednesday criticised Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin after it transpired that he and his party colleague Arsen Bauk had used the most benefits as MPs.

"Everyone answers for themselves but how can Grbin claim that he can run the country if he can't say where he lives," said Stephen Nikola Bartulica of the Homeland Movement after Grbin said that by using his living away from home allowance (LAFHA), he had not violated any law.

"In principle, politicians in Croatia are divorced from reality, they live in a parallel world", said Bartulica.

Marijan Pavliček of the Croatian Sovereignists said it was sad that some manipulated the living away from home allowance.

"You cannot live in both Pula and Zagreb, have your family both in Pula and in Zagreb," Pavliček said, adding that he was willing to be the first to give up his LAFHA if all MPs would do the same.

Romana Nikolić, a former SDP MP and now a member of the Social Democrats, too, criticised Grbin, noting that such conduct was why citizens did not trust politicians.

MPs who live outside Zagreb should be compensated for rent, travel expenses

"If you have relocated, there should be no allowance for living away from home," said Sandra Benčić of We Can!.

"MPs who live outside of Zagreb and come to Zagreb to attend sessions of the parliament three to four days a week should receive allowances of between HRK 2,000 and 2,500 for rent", she said.

"Those whose families live in other cities should be compensated only for the actual costs incurred, such as travel expenses", she said.

"The purpose of allowances is not for someone to earn additional income," she stressed.

Anka Mrak Taritaš of the GLAS party said that MPs living outside of Zagreb should have their rent and travel expenses covered by the state, and she considers the allowance for living away from home unnecessary.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

SDP, We Can! Want to Run in Next Parliamentary Election Together, Večernji List Says

ZAGREB, 9 Feb 2022 - The strongest opposition Social Democratic Party and We Can!, which ran separately in last year's local elections in Zagreb, are no longer hiding that they are coming closer at national level, Večernji List daily said on Wednesday.

Although the next regular parliamentary election is two years away, both parties are saying off the record that they will not run independently because nobody can form a government alone, and only together can they be a strong alternative against the ruling HDZ.

The only dilemma at the moment, top SDP officials say, is whether it is better to run in one bloc, all centre-left parties together, or in two, one comprising the SDP and We Can!, and the other with Centre, GLAS, Focus and similar parties.

The SDP and We Can! say they are satisfied with their cooperation in parliament, and that their ruling coalition in Zagreb will be an essential factor for a possible joint success at the national level.

"The SDP-We Can! coalition is the first step without which there is no chance at all of defeating the HDZ in the next election. If it's done soon enough, like (the then SDP leader) Ivica Račan did in 1998 with Dražen Budiša and the HSLS, which means offering a clear platform and people, it's a really good alternative which can look for voters' confidence in the election," an eminent SDP member was quoted as saying.

The fact that you have coalition potential and that there is a wish before the election to change things points to an honest approach which will certainly bring results, he adds.

Večernji List's We Can! sources think the same. They say the constant attacks on the HDZ over its scandals is counterproductive in attracting attention, and that in the months ahead the SDP and We Can! must solely present their policies to citizens, showing that they have both a platform and a vision, and are capable of solving problems.

The latest public opinion polls speak in favour of the SDP-We Can! cooperation, showing that together, they have higher support than the HDZ, the newspaper said, adding that the next most popular party, Bridge, has not clearly said whether it will run in the election together with the SDP and We Can!, but "swears" it will not go with the HDZ a third time.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Istria County Head Dismisses 'Unfounded Accusations, Ill-intentioned Insinuations'

ZAGREB, 8 Feb 2022 - Istria County prefect and former Pula mayor Boris Miletić on Tuesday dismissed "all the unfounded accusations and ill-intentioned insinuations" made by Social Democratic Party county councillor Danijel Ferić, who said he had pressed charges against Miletić.

Speaking for HINA, Miletić said this was not the first time Ferić was using criminal complaints "solely as a tool for political promotion."

He said Ferić's MO was "to press charges, call a press conference and then, making bombastic statements and announcements to exert pressure on the Croatian judiciary, because he knows very well that when the charges are dismissed as unfounded and false, he will not carry any responsibility."

Miletić said Ferić, like every individual, was personally responsible for every publicly uttered untruth "which the court will easily establish."

Ferić told the press earlier today he had filed criminal complaints on behalf of the SDP against Miletić and his closest associates when he was the mayor of Pula on suspicion of financial wrongdoing.

For more, check out our politics section.

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