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."

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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.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

SDP, GLAS Criticise Gov't Decision to Co-Finance Construction of Chapel in Bethlehem

ZAGREB, 19 Aug, 2021 - The Social Democratic Party has criticised the government's decision to co-finance the construction of a chapel in Bethlehem with HRK 3.3 million, calling on it to use the money for the reconstruction of houses in the earthquake-hit region of Banija while the GLAS party called the decision scandalous.

"At a time when the healthcare system is under strain, when post-earthquake reconstruction in Zagreb and Banija is late and people lack basic conditions for normal living, our foreign minister considers it a priority to finance the Church," SDP political secretary and MP Mirela Ahmetović said in a statement.

Calling on the government to use the money intended for the chapel to rebuild a dozen homes in Banija or buy expensive drugs for children suffering from rare diseases, Ahmetović noted that the Catholic Church receives around HRK 300 million from the state budget annually plus donations from local government units.

Another opposition party, GLAS, described the government's decision as scandalous, noting that Croatia did not have a sufficient number of radiation therapy machines, which was why some cancer patients had to wait for therapy for up to three months.

"The Andrej Plenković government has always chosen its priorities wisely, including this time. Their clients and the Church that brings votes come first, and if something is left over, citizens get what they really need," the party said in a statement.

GLAS MP Anka Mrak-Taritaš proposed to the parliament that the government should purchase three new radiation therapy machines, one costing HRK 5 million.

Earlier in the day the government decided to allocate 3.375 million kuna(€450,000) for the construction of a Croatian chapel in Bethlehem and thus granted a request made by Conventual Franciscans in Zagreb.

The chapel will be built in Shepherd’s Field in Bethlehem to honour Croatian saints and Croatians who have been blessed.

Friar Sandro Tomasevic, a clergyman in the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, told Hina that he was happy with the government's decision and described Croatia's plan to build the chapel as one of the six nations to do so in Bethlehem as a great success.

"It is a great thing for the whole homeland, particularly for our faithful and pilgrims," the priest said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

SDP Chief Says Croatia Should Receive Afghan Refugees

ZAGREB, 18 Aug 2021 -  Social Democratic Party (SDP) president Peđa Grbin said on Tuesday his party advocated that Croatia receives Afghan refugees.                                                                    

Croatia should accept Afghan refugees, notably women, for several reasons. First of all, it is a matter of solidarity. Second of all, Croatia had taken part in a mission in Afghanistan. The most important question is whether the departure of refugees from Afghanistan is going to be organized or is 2015 going to happen all over again, Grbin said.

The SDP chief added that in 20 years, the international community failed to do anything in Afghanistan.

Addressing reporters after a 4-hour session of the party presidency, which focused on the dissolution of party city organization in Zagreb and Slavonski Brod, Grbin said the presidency had decided these processes were over and that they had been conducted in accordance with the SDP statute and party regulations.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

SDP Expels Six Prominent Members

ZAGREB, 28 July, 2021 - Six prominent members of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) have not had their membership renewed following membership reviews in the party's Zagreb and Slavonski Brod branches, Hina learned unofficially.

The members in question are: MP and former cabinet minister Ranko Ostojić, MPs and former secretaries-general Zvane Brumnić and Nikša Vukas, MP Marina Opačak Bilić from Slavonski Brod, who was involved in a financial scandal, former head of the Zagreb branch Gordan Maras, and Tihomir Barišić, best man to former party leader Davor Bernardić.

The reasons for their expulsion are of a political nature. They were told that people who did damage to the party or refused to take an active part in recent local elections could not keep their membership cards.

With these decisions, the SDP has been left without four MPs and now holds 28 seats in the 151-seat parliament. The question is whether there will be more expulsions and how Bernardić will react, given that these are mainly his associates.

According to unofficial sources, the six expelled members were called by SDP leader Peđa Grbin to tell them that their membership would not be renewed.

After the membership review in Zagreb, it is estimated that of the previous 4,000 members about 1,700 are left now, as members who could not be contacted or have not paid their membership fees for more than a year have also been expelled.

Writing in a Facebook post, Maras said that he would never sell his views to win anyone's favours. "What matters the most to me is you who support me without any interest and just because you know that i am OK. There are stages in life and nothing happens without a reason. I believe i didn't let you down," Maras said in a message to his followers.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

New Waste Management Legislation Will Make Bills Higher, Says Opposition

ZAGREB, 13 July, 2021 - Some opposition parties claimed on Tuesday that the new waste management law will result in higher bills for citizens and that this will in particular affect lessors and small entrepreneurs.

The entire waste management system is based on waste management centres which are very expensive and that will be evident once citizens receive their new bills, said MP Sanja Udović (SDP).

She claimed that in those areas where these centres have been established, citizens can expect their bills to increase by 100 percent. "We, in Primorje Gorski Kotar County can soon expect the end price to go up, that means the price citizens pay will increase by some 30 to 40 percent," she said.

MP Marin Lerotić (IDS) underscored that the new bill doesn't go in favour of citizens nor lessors or small businesses who have been categorised as non-households and will pay a higher price.

"Shopping centres will pay the same, minimal service, as will shoemakers, or camp sites for up to 10,000 people will pay the same as a family-owned camp site with a capacity of up to 12 people. Hotels with a capacity of 100 rooms will pay the same price as a lessor of a flat," warned Lerotić.

MP Josip Borić (HDZ) explained that the government was providing a framework for prices to be defined by the local government.

"The opportunity exists to reduce the price for those who need to be rewarded. It contains criteria that allow that reduction for enterprises to certain household members, you can make them up yourself and include them in the price list," he said.

Local government officials have to realise that their role in waste management will be more complex, constructive, creative and more responsible, state-secretary in the Economy Ministry, Mile Horvat said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: SDP Interpellation Won't Pass, They Must Pretend They Are Doing Something

ZAGREB, 29 June, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday the Social Democratic Party's interpellation on the government's slowness in post-earthquake reconstruction would not pass, adding that in the SDP "they have to pretend they are doing something" after losing in local elections.

Speaking to the press in Petrinja, Plenković said he had not seen the interpellation but that "when someone loses so badly in local elections, when they have a 13% rating, they have to pretend they are doing something." He added that parliament would reject it.

Plenković visited Petrinja to see the demolition of buildings damaged in December's earthquake and meet with the task force dealing with its consequences.

He said that when the reconstruction law was being passed, he said he wished to incorporate in it all constructive ideas and that no prior law included so many proposals from the opposition.

He said interpellations like the SDP's one did not serve to improve something but to show distrust in the government.

In the interpellation filed today, the SDP asks for urgently amending the reconstruction law, including local government in discussions about it, and informing the public more transparently, among other things.

Asked who was responsible for the fact that 150 damaged buildings had been torn down in the Banija region since the December 2020 earthquake and only three in Zagreb since the March 2020 quake, Plenković said the goal in Zagreb had been to first provide institutions that would be in charge of the whole process, then financing, and cooperation between the state, the city and the quake-affected counties around Zagreb.

He said the processing of reconstruction applications in Zagreb was "somewhat slower" than expected but that property-rights relations in the capital were "even more complex" than in Banija. "We tasked (Construction) Minister Horvat with accelerating all processes and I expect all who should help him in that to contribute."

He said Reconstruction Fund head Damir Vanđelić must be propulsive, notably regarding the reconstruction of private houses and buildings.

Citizens should be responsible and contribute by getting vaccinated

Asked if Croatia would have to resort to COVID-19 vaccination incentives, like some countries that have announced financial rewards, Plenković asked whether that meant "bribing people to be vaccinated?"

"What will we give to the 44% who have been vaccinated? If we give HRK 100 to someone who hasn't been vaccinated but is waiting and calculating, what about the million and a half who have been vaccinated? Give them money retroactively?"

Plenković said people were "fully informed" about all key matters and that every citizen had the responsibility to contribute to society by getting vaccinated.

Recalling the number of COVID deaths, he said everything should be done to motivate people to be vaccinated, adding that Croatia had 670,000 doses available.

If they were administered, he said, "we would practically solve all problems" and stop the virus from spreading. He said it was a matter of common sense and that, perhaps, young people should be motivated to attend concerts and big events with COVID certificates.

Asked what message inconsistencies in enforcing COVID restrictions sent to those undecided on vaccination, Plenković said that "everyone who is responsible will contribute, who isn't, won't."

He said Croatia had been applying mild restrictions out of respect for its citizens, considering them smart and responsible. He said the Croatian mentality would not accept tough restrictions. "We didn't decide in vain that we would not be a country with a curfew. That wouldn't have been well-accepted and I think we did the right thing."

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 21 June 2021

SDP, SABA Welcome PM's Decision To Attend Antifascist Struggle Day Commemoration

June 21st, 2021 - The deputy leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, and the head of the Alliance of Antifascist Fighters and Antifascists (SABA), Franjo Habulin, have welcomed Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's decision to attend the commemoration of Antifascist Struggle Day on Tuesday.

"I haven't seen him there for the past six or seven years. We'll see whether there will be a specific discourse of the ruling party concerning the legacy of antifascism in Croatia, which we must foster because it was because of the antifascist movement that Croatia ended up on the right side after the Second World War," Hajdaš Dončić told reporters after an SDP delegation laid wreaths at the Tomb of National Heroes in Zagreb's Mirogoj Cemetery on Monday.

He said he hoped that this would also lead to a better attitude towards history and the monuments commemorating the antifascist struggle during the Second World War, many of which have been devastated. "Some people here find it hard to accept that Croatia won in the Second World War," Hajdaš Dončić said.

Asked what prompted the prime minister's decision, Hajdaš Dončić said he did not know. "We'll see tomorrow. If he continues that, I welcome and commend his move," he said.

President Zoran Milanović will also attend the commemoration of Antifascist Struggle Day in Brezovica Forest, outside Sisak, on Tuesday.

Commenting on the prime minister's decision, SABA president Franjo Habulin recalled last year's adoption of the new law on national holidays and memorial days, which says that events marking national holidays are organized by the Government,  Parliament, and the President of the Republic.

"Given that the government organizes the Antifascist Struggle Day ceremony, I think the prime minister felt the need to be there," Habulin said, noting that the ceremony would mark the 80th anniversary of the formation of the first Partisan detachment, the first armed unit formed at the beginning of the Second World War in the territory of Croatia and the former Yugoslavia.

He said that over the last 30 years, many problems had accumulated regarding the attitude towards antifascism, Croatia's antifascist history, and monuments commemorating antifascist fighters.

"Prime Minister Plenković obviously thinks that certain processes should be stopped and that problems that have accumulated in the last 30 years should be addressed. I think his attendance in Brezovica is a step in that direction," Habulin said.

Delegations of the Government, Parliament, and the City of Zagreb also laid wreaths in Mirogoj Cemetery on the occasion of Antifascist Struggle Day, which is observed on 22 June.

For more, follow TCN's dedicated page

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Možemo!, SDP Sign Agreement For Zagreb City Assembly

ZAGREB, 16 June, 2021 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević and Social Democratic Party (SDP) president Peđa Grbin said on Wednesday that Tomašević's Možemo! platform and the SDP had signed a coalition agreement for the City Assembly and that its chair would be from the SDP.

The agreement contains 28 programme goals, including social and housing policies, environmental protection, waste management, water supply and drainage, and sustainable transport. culture, education,

Speaking to the press, Tomašević highlighted stepping the post-earthquake reconstruction of public and private buildings, reducing the number of city offices, a more transparent budget, and digitalising the city's administration and companies.

He said the majority in the City Assembly would have 28 deputies, that Možemo! and its partners would chair 14 of the 18 committees, and that Možemo! and the SDP had agreed to annually evaluate the realisation of the programme goals.

Tomašević said the Možemo! and SDP programmes were highly compatible and that he expected good cooperation as Zagreb needed a stable majority given all the challenges, adding that the City Assembly would be inaugurated tomorrow.

Grbin: The agreement is a pledge for the future

Grbin said the SDP Presidency's candidate for the assembly chairman was Joško Klisović, who had been the party's mayoral candidate.

He said that Zagreb's many problems had to be dealt with right away, adding that they could not be solved if the mayor's proposals did not have firm support in the City Assembly.

Grbin said the recent talks between the SDP and Možemo! had been "unbelievably constructive" and that their programmes were "very complementary and that's why we found a common ground on what our priorities will be."

As for goals of special importance to the SDP, he mentioned the introduction of a city treasury and an Internet platform to enable anyone noticing corruption in the work of the City Assembly to report it.

Grbin said today's agreement was a pledge for the functioning of Zagreb that would ensure the city's transformation as the SDP and Možemo! had announced during their mayoral election campaigns.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

SDP Adopts Draft Programme For Cooperation With Možemo! in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021- The presidency of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has adopted a draft programme for cooperation with the green-left platform Možemo! and their partners in Zagreb, which will ensure their majority in the new City Assembly following recent local elections, the SDP announced on Monday evening.

Addressing the press after the SDP Presidency meeting, Glasovac said that the draft 28-point programme was adopted unanimously and that several other details needed to be agreed before Wednesday, when the programme is expected to be signed.

She said that the cooperation programme included points on a transparent budget, civic education in schools, care for pre-school children, and certain infrastructure projects. 

Glasovac confirmed that the draft also dealt with the division of roles in the City Assembly, but would not say whether Joško Klisović, the SDP's mayoral candidate, would serve as deputy chairman of the Assembly. 

Možemo! said that it would discuss the draft on Tuesday.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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