Wednesday, 20 April 2022

SDP Chief, PM Trade Accusations Over Perković and Mustač, Allowances

ZAGREB, 20 April 2022 - The request for a pardon for two Yugoslav-era secret service officials came at an opportune time for Prime Minister Andrej Plenković so that he would not have to deal with real problems in the country, Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin said in Parliament on Wednesday.

"This whole story with Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač comes as if on order for the prime minister, or was possibly even ordered by him, so that he would not have to deal with real problems in the country," Grbin said during Question Time, asking the prime minister when the government would be reshuffled and whether he would step down or start doing his job.

"You are so rude and so low to impute to us that we instigated the story with Perković and Mustač. Are you in your right mind? What's the matter with you?" Plenković responded.

Plenković called Grbin "a scammer" who had used an allowance for living apart from his family and later portrayed himself as a humanitarian by donating this government money to no one knows whom. He said that Grbin should be ashamed and should keep his mouth shut for a year so that people would forget he existed and should stop coming to Parliament until this was forgotten.

Pointing at the ministers in the Parliament chamber, Grbin recalled the scandals they were suspected of. "Your government is not functioning and is corrupt, but you don't bother about that," he said, adding that by avoiding an answer the PM did not spat in his face but in the faces of those he was supposed to represent and whose interests he should be serving.

Grbin warned that many businesses were facing higher electricity bills, which would lead to higher prices of bread and other staples, adding that government measures were not enough any more.

Plenković said that Croatia was not facing any shortages. "We are quite stable both with regard to reserves and with regard to production and imports," he said, noting that food prices were increasing on account of increasing energy prices.

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.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

SDP Leader Says Will Donate Money From LAFHA to Charitable Cause

ZAGREB, 20 Feb 2022 - The Social Democratic Party (SDP) president, Peđa Grbin, said on Sunday that 50,000 kuna (€6,700), which is equivalent to the sum he has received as a member of parliament through Living Away From Home Allowance (LAFHA) since 2016, would be donated to the charitable cause.

During his interview with the HTV national television, Grbin admitted that it was not fair to keep that money and that it was wrong of him to accept that allowance after he married his wife in 2016 and started living together both in Pula and Zagreb.

The case of LAFHA for the SDP chief grabbed the media limelight after it was revealed that Grbin did not live only in his hometown of Pula, and that his family is now staying in Zagreb where he intends to enroll his child in a kindergarten.

Grbin said that he himself decided recently to waive that allowance before the case was exposed to the public.

Grbin insisted that he had received the allowance in compliance with laws and the parliament's rule book, and added that currently over 80 MPs in the 151-seat parliament received LAFHA.

The opposition leader said that he would push for better regulation of the perks for lawmakers.

Commenting on Minister Darko Horvat's arrest on the abuse of office charges, who resigned after the apprehension, the SDP chief said that the matter did not concern Horvat only but the whole government.

"This is about a systematic way for favouring certain people with connections with Horvat, (former minister Tomislav) Tolušić, or someone else. (Prime Minsiter Andrej) Plenković has been aware of that and tolerated that," said Grbin.

He again called for snap elections as the exit from the current situation.

Asked by the show's host whether he still nurtured the ambition to become the prime minister, Grbin said that it was his obligation as long as he was at the helm of the SDP.

Grbin extended condolences to Prime Minister Plenković on the death of his father who passed away in a hospital on Saturday evening.

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, 16 February 2022

SDP Leader: I Didn't Violate Any Law, We Aren't All the Same

ZAGREB, 16 Feb (Hina) - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin said on Wednesday that he did not breach any law for receiving a Living Away from Home Allowance (LAFHA), and rejected the claim that all politicians are the same when it comes to utilising perks.

"I am being accused today of using something that I have a right to by law. This is not an issue of whether I violated the law but whether my conduct was ethical and moral," Grbin said in the national parliament, reacting to an article in the daily press that he has been paid LAFHA as a lawmaker because his hometown is Pula yet he is living in Zagreb with his wife and child.

Grbin rejected the claim that all politicians are the same, saying that there are differences between him and for example, Defence Minister Mario Banožić or the Prime Minister's chief of staff Zvonimir Frka Petešić, with regards to violating the law.

Grbin explained that LAFHA is not related to family status or where one's family lives, but where you are from. He believes that MPs who are not from Zagreb should not be called out for these matters, because the Sabor cannot solely represent Zagreb and its inhabitants.

"I do not wish to renounce my hometown. Pula is my town while Zagreb is where I am performing my political duties," said Grbin.

Asked where he lives precisely, Grbin said he too would like to know because he is neither in Zagreb nor in Pula, but his work takes him everywhere.

He explained that his child is still not going to kindergarten because he is only eight months old and spends most of the time with his mother in Pula who is on maternity leave. Grbin added that he decided this year that his child would go to kindergarten in Zagreb and then asked for LAFHA to be ceased. "Not because I considered that I was not entitled to it, but rather because I thought it would not be fair to be paid that allowance," said Grbin.

Wednesday's edition of the Jutarnji List daily claimed that Social Democratic Party MPs Arsen Bauk and Peđa Grbin have mastered the art of utilising all the perks available for national legislator. Even though both have lived in Zagreb for more than 10 years, have their families with them in Zagreb, partners that are employed in Zagreb and children were born in Zagreb, neither of them have changed their registered residency. Bauk is still registered on Brač Island and Grbin in Pula. Until a month ago, Grbin was even paid LAFHA which he has now renounced so he can enrol his child in a kindergarten in Zagreb.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

SDP MPs Grbin and Bauk Champions in Using Parliamentary Perks, Jutarnji List Daily Reports

ZAGREB, 16 Feb 2022 - Social Democratic Party MPs Arsen Bauk and Peđa Grbin have mastered the art of utilising all perks available for legislators, Wednesday's edition of the Jutarnji List daily reported in an article.

Although both MPs have lived in Zagreb for more than 10 years, including have their families living with them, partners that are employed in Zagreb and children born in Zagreb, neither of them has changed their residency. Bauk is still registered on Brač Island, while Grbin in the City of Pula.

The Sabor is paying their rent in Zagreb and both of them are paid tens of thousands of kuna for travel expenses to and from Brač and Pula. Until a month ago, Grbin was even paid a "living away from home allowance" (LAFHA), which he has now renounced so he can enrol his child in a kindergarten in Zagreb.

In the fifteen years that Bauk has been a member of parliament and office-holder, he has managed to deposit about HRK 5.5 million kuna in his bank account and about 40% of his income or HRK 627,000 (€82,919) is deposited in savings. His savings amount to just a little more than the budget paid to cover Bauk's rental costs.

Despite the fact that his wife is a Zagreb local and his child was born in Zagreb about two years ago, Bauk claims that he is living at the government's expense in Zagreb only temporarily.

Bauk admits that he does not receive LAFHA in the amount of 1,000 per month. telling the daily that it would be 'stupid' to receive that perk as he did not live separately from his partner.

However, Bauk doesn't consider it to be stupid that his party leader, Grbin, is in a similar situation and has lived in Zagreb for years and yet taxpayers are not only paying for his rent in Zagreb, but also for each time he travels to his hometown to Pula.

Explaining his entitlement to LAFHA, Grbin said that the parliament decided that that allowance is paid to MPs who do not live in Zagreb, but come from other cities and it is an allowance paid to MPs because of a requirement to live away from their usual place of residence to do their job.

He admitted however that in order to "enrol our child in kindergarten, I have requested the Sabor to cease paying me that allowance and as of 1 January, I am no longer receiving it," said Grbin.

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.

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.

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

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Ousted SDP Members Can’t Be in Parliamentary Group, Main Committee Decides

ZAGREB, 2 Oct, 2021 - The Social Democratic Party's Main Committee decided on Saturday that the four MPs ousted from the SDP could no longer be members of its parliamentary group and that this would also apply to all members of representative bodies at all levels who did not implement decisions of the party's bodies.

Main Committee chair Marija Lugarić told the press that 58 members voted for the decision, eight were against and five abstained.

She would not say what would happen to the MPs who voted against the ousting of Nikša Vukas, Zvane Brumnić, Rajko Ostojić and Marina Opačak Bilić from the parliamentary group at a group meeting expected on Wednesday nor if they too would be ousted from the party.

Besides those four, another 14 SDP MPs signed a document against ousting the four from the parliamentary group, which means that SDP leader Peđa Grbin has 18 of the party's 32 MPs against him.

Grbin: SDP's leadership and policy can be only one

He said the majority by which the Main Committee decision was adopted "shows that there are no doubts in the SDP as to the direction the party should take. That also shows that the SDP leadership is not divided and that the SDP's leadership and policy can be only one."

Grbin said he could not predict what would happen at the parliamentary group meeting, but that everyone would decide for themselves if they wanted to be part of the team or not.

Asked if he would see a possible rift within the parliamentary group as his political defeat, Grbin said he would be very sorry if any SDP member were to decide not to be part of the team any longer.

He said the MPs "who decide not to implement the Main Committee's decision will be saying that they don't want to be part of the team called the SDP." 

Grbin said Vukas, Brumnić, Ostojić and Opačak Bilić were ousted from the SDP because "we were faced with serious manipulation not befitting a serious political party."

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

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Gordan Maras' Post-Political Life: From Politics to Business

September 29, 2021 - Gordan Maras' post-political life sees the former economy minister and MP going into private business.

Croats often discuss politics, whether on social media or in bars over coffee or something stronger. As such, one could say they love politics but despise politicians.

If you regularly read TCN's political section, you can see why. Numerous instances of corruption among political elites or an inadequate bureaucratic system are just the tip of the iceberg. Add-in politicians (for a year, most notably President Zoran Milanović and Prime minister Andrej Plenković) spending more time insulting each other than dealing with the many problems Croatian people have, and you can really understand the constant trash-talking about politicians that Croats almost constantly do.

Some Croatian politicians, such as the late Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, despite heavy criticism, remain in power till the end of their lives. In contrast, others, such as former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, eventually retire from politics (and then spend time writing for TCN, no less).

One such politician who recently said goodbye to politics is Gordan Maras.

Many Croatian media outlets, such as Dnevnik.hr reported on Maras's social media post that his 20-year-old long political career doesn't mean the end of his working days.

After briefly being unemployed, Gordan Maras came with a business plan and became an entrepreneur. More precisely, he will be a consultant for European Funds, as well as a project financing advisor. Basically, if you have an idea to start a business, but you don't know how to start it, Maras is now the guy to talk to.

''I feel full of energy, thirsty to work and aware that I have a fresh start in front of me and I'll do everything I can to use this opportunity,'' Maras said, as noted by Dnevnik.hr

In general, apart from receiving edgy humour and cynicism at your expense from the public, the end of a political career may not be so bad after all. If your political endeavor brought you to parliamentary level politics, you're in line to receive a parliamentary pension. As Mirovina.hr writes, a parliamentary pension is 10,077 kuna, allowing for a more than pleasant life.

''If an MP has held office for three consecutive years, in each term longer than half, he may retire with 15 years of service. His pension is 55 percent of his base salary (parliamentary net salary), increased by two percent per year of service,'' informs Mirovina.hr when stating the conditions you need to satisfy for a Croatian parliamentary pension.

Gordan Maras, having been an MP from 2007 and economy minister from 2011 to 2016, certainly has the right to this luxurious pension. Not to mention the fact that his last job was being the head of Zagreb's local SDP branch.

Maras stated how ''a parliamentary pension was never an option'' and despite corruption scandals he was allegedly involved in, that is a praiseworthy decision on his part. But the downside is that he still received state aid for his new private business adventure. Let's just hope he will pay his taxes.

Gordan Maras's career change is followed by the tensions in the Croatian Socialdemocratic party (SDP) after new party president Peđa Grbin removed Maras and three other (in)famous party members: Rajko Ostojić, Zvane Brumnić, and Nikša Vukas. As TCN reported, this decision caused an unbelievable tremble within SDP, the second biggest political force in all of Croatia.

Despite the current president Zoran Milanović (who is also the former prime minister and the head of the government which had Maras as a minister) starting his career in SDP, the party hasn't won any parliamentary elections since 2015. Grbin hoped to improve SDP's rating by removing those associated with ''less than top quality'' political work (or alleged criminal affairs) in the past from the party. He also believes these individuals are the result of less than satisfactory election results with Rijeka being the only big city an with SDP mayor.

With Maras now retired, new faces came to the parliament. From the green-left Možemo! Party (currently ruling Zagreb) or the Centre-party Fokus (who earned their name in handling Sveta Nedelja ) to conservative star Marin Miletić from the Most party. With new names for every political preference, there may be a glimmer of hope that these new names will work honorably and convince Croats that politicians aren't so bad after all. Who knows, maybe the millionth time's a charm?

Learn more about Croatian politics and history from the 1990s on our TC page.

For more news from SDP Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Page 1 of 6

Search