Friday, 9 October 2020

SDP MP Arsen Bauk Says PM Andrej Plenkovic Must Step Down

ZAGREB, October 9, 2020 - Social Democratic Party parliamentarian Arsen Bauk said on Friday that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic should step down for many reasons, and one of them is his claim that he did not know that a preliminary probe had been launched in the Janaf case.

"I have in particularly noticed President Zoran Milanovic's statement that the premier definitely knew 1000% what was going on and failed to do anything, while the premier is claiming that he did not know anything. That is an even a bigger reason for his resignation," Bauk said.

Considering the Opposition's further plans after the ruling majority's refusal to support the establishment of an inquiry commission over investigation leaks, Bauk said that the discussion on that issue would be on the agenda of parliament's plenary sitting, when it would be clear who represented what, considering that matter.

Commenting on the latest statements by President Zoran Milanovic and his heated debates and exchange of barbs with his critics, Bauk said that anyone who followed Milanovic in the last 15 years of his political career should not be surprised by the president's public conduct.

Bauk said that he agreed with most of the things the president said.

I like a majority of his stylistic and metaphoric expressions, the SDP MP said.

He declined to comment on the internal conflicts in this strongest Opposition party, and expressed hope that there would not be any rifts within the SDP following the latest developments when a majority of SDP MPs rejected the motions and decisions proposed by the party's new leader, Pedja Grbin.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

SDP Whip Arsen Bauk Says Speculation about Party Rift very Dangerous

ZAGREB, Oct 7, 2020 - Social Democratic Party whip Arsen Bauk said on Wednesday, following a rift in the SDP parliamentary group, that he hoped this was the last time something like that was happening because party members were fed up with conflicts and that conflicts would not continue.

The SDP group in the parliament on Tuesday rejected a proposal by the new SDP leader Pedja Grbin for changes in parliamentary positions held by the SDP.

Bauk said speculation about a rift in the party was very dangerous, adding that one such situation happened during the term of the last parliament when the party began the term with one number of MPs and ended it with a different number. He expressed hope this would not happen again.

"I have informed the parliamentary secretariat that the SDP presidency has decided that Pedja Grbin will be the new party whip, while Mirela Ahmetovic, Sinisa Hajdas Doncic, Sabina Glasovac and I will be his deputies, and we expect the secretariat to put those changes on the parliament's official web site," said Bauk.

The other proposals for appointments will not be forwarded by the party presidency but by the party's parliamentary group, in line with the parliament's standing orders. Since the parliament's standing orders say that party groups in the parliament are formed by political parties, I'm not sure the parliament's secretariat should arbitrate in parties' internal matters, said Bauk.

He assumes that the new party whip, as soon as the parliament secretariat carries out the proposed changes, would very shortly put forward a proposal for new personnel changes for the SDP.

When asked if Grbin would do so contrary to the will of a majority of SDP MPs, Bauk said that the will of SDP MPs would be determined at a plenary session.

Grbin on Wednesday would not comment on the conflict in the party but made a brief comment in a Facebook post on HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic's statement that there was continuity of conflicts in the SDP.

"We do have problems, but we are dealing with them rather than sweeping them under the carpet. It's better to have the continuity of problems that are being dealt with than the continuity of not dealing with corruption," said Grbin.

HDZ whip surprised by SDP's motion

HDZ whip Branko Bacic told reporters he was surprised by the SDP's motion.

A party cannot send such proposals to the parliament, only a parliamentary group can or requests for certain appointments can be submitted if backed by a certain number of MPs, 40 for a deputy parliament speaker and 15 for a committee chair, he said.

"We are not a party state. Parties cannot propose bills or any other decision related to the work of the parliament. Under the standing orders, only parliamentary groups can do so or one should seek the support of a certain number of MPs. I'm surprised that Grbin, who chaired the Committee on the Constitution and Standing Orders, is putting forward a proposal which is, I won't say funny but is absolutely inappropriate and cannot be implemented, either under the law or under the standing orders," said Bacic, noting that the HDZ did not intend to arbitrate in the dispute in the SDP.

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Sunday, 4 October 2020

New SDP Leader Pedja Grbin: I Want to be Warned about Mistakes

ZAGREB, October 4, 2020 - New Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Pedja Grbin said on Saturday night that he wanted to be warned about mistakes as he had warned Davor Bernardic.

Grbin dismissed the idea that he had wanted to overthrow Davor Bernardic, saying that he was merely reacting to what he considered bad and added that he expected his colleagues to do the same.

Grbin said that there would be no suspensions or dissolutions of party organisations and that they would work on strengthening the existing organisations and establishing new ones across Croatia.

He announced that the provision on the party members' right to vote would be amended to give everyone the right to vote.

As for local elections, Grbin said that the SDP would have a candidate for the Zagreb mayoral election.

"That candidate will not only be SDP's candidate, but a candidate of all progressive, civic and left-wing parties that truly want changes in Zagreb," he said.

Asked whether that will be Tomislav Tomasevic of the We Can! platform, he said that before such a decision was made, there would be talks with other political options and the city branch.

"We will do our best for the citizens of Zagreb, and that is to free them from this octopus of corruption that has spread its tentacles around the city," he said.

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Saturday, 3 October 2020

Pedja Grbin Elected SDP Leader

ZAGREB, Oct 3,  2020 - Pedja Grbin has become the fourth leader of Croatia's strongest opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) after defeating his leadership opponent in an election run-off on Saturday.

Slightly over 11,500 SDP members were entitled to vote in the second round at 286 polling stations in six electoral regions. Grbin won 65 percent of votes and Zeljko Kolar 35 percent.

The party election was held after Davor Bernardic stepped down as leader following a poor showing at the parliamentary election of July 5.

In the first round of voting held last Saturday, Grbin received 41.23 percent of votes and Kolar 25.53%.

Grbin was born in the northern Adriatic city of Pula in 1979. He is a law graduate and has served as the deputy leader of the SDP since 2016.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Grbin and Kolar to Vie in Runoff for SDP Leader

ZAGREB, Sept 27, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) vice-president Pedja Grbin and Krapina-Zagorje County head Zeljko Kolar will run for the post of SDP leader in a second round of intraparty elections, it was said on Saturday evening, after polling stations were closed and votes were counted.

After 70% of the ballots were counted, it was stated that Grbin received the support of 43% of SDP members who participated in the voting, and Kolar mustered 22%.

The other candidates running for the fourth SDP leader and successor to Davor Bernardic were SDP Split-Dalmatia County branch head Ranko Ostojic. who won 19%of the vote, Omisalj Mayor Mirela Ahmetovic (15.4%), Pula Social Democrat Marino Percan 0.5%.

Elections for the fourth SDP leader were held at 286 polling stations in six-party constituencies, and around 12,000 party members had the right to vote.

The second round is due to be held next Saturday. 

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Saturday, 26 September 2020

Election of the new SDP Leader Have Started at 7 O'clock

ZAGREB, Sept 26, 2020  - The process of the election of the new SDP leader started at 7 o'clock on Saturday morning at 286 polling stations organized by this Opposition party throughout the country.

The election was called for 26 September after Davor Bernardic resigned following the party's defeat in the 5 July parliamentary elections.

The five candidates are vying for the presidency of the strongest Opposition party: Omisalj Mayor Mirela Ahmetovic, parliamentarian Pedja Grbin, Krapina-Zagorje County Prefect Zeljko Kolar, SDP Split country branch leader Ranko Ostojic, and an SDP official from Pula, Marino Percan.

Some 12,000 members are entitled to exercise their voting right in this poll.

The results are expected to be released on Saturday evening.

According to some forecasts, none of the five candidates are likely to receive more than 50 percent of the vote, and therefore first two vote-getters will compete in a run-off in seven days' time.

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Thursday, 24 September 2020

SDP Calls for Defense University Bill to be Withdrawn

ZAGREB, Sept 24, 2020 - Parliamentary opposition parties on Thursday raised a series of objections to the government-sponsored Defense University bill to establish a Defense and National Security University, with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) proposing that the bill be withdrawn from the floor.

"The bill belittles the science and education sector," said Sanja Radolovic (SDP), claiming that it was unconstitutional and unlawful. "We support the development of defense and security, but why to establish a university, why not start with a college?" she added, wondering who would validate degrees and why the Ministry of Science and Education was not in charge of the bill.

Marija Puljak of the Pametno party welcomed the initial idea but stressed that everything should be done in accordance with the procedures in place.

"I think that the challenges of today, such as the coronavirus epidemic, cyber-attacks, and climate change, require our army to be well educated, trained, and equipped to be able to cope with these challenges," said Andjelko Stricak of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

Marko Pavic (HDZ) said that there was a great tradition of military academies and universities in the world. He said he was pleased that a university would be established to cover the military security sector. "We should be more ambitious. The biggest companies target people who complete such studies," he noted.

Defence Minister Mario Banozic said that the new university would be organized as other public universities in Croatia, that it would be subject to laws governing defense, and would respect the constitutional provision on university autonomy.7

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Wednesday, 16 September 2020

SDP MP Willing to Teach Math to Pupils Who Don't Attend Religion

ZAGREB, Sept 16, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) lawmaker Arsen Bauk on Wednesday called on the Education Ministry to organise Religion classes in school timetables so that children who do not attend that optional subject should not stay in their classrooms during those classes.

Addressing the parliament on behalf of the SDP bench, Bauk said that with the organisation of classes in circumstances marked by the outbreak of coronavirus, some schools demand that children who do not attend Religion should remain in their classroom during that class.

"It is a horrible practice," said the SDP math teacher-turned-politician, adding that he was willing to teach those children math during those classes.

He called on the ministry to solve the issue and help avoid situations in which such children could feel "as second class pupils".

Bauk recalled that the children's ombudswoman Helenca Pirnat Dragicevic also stated that Religion classes should be scheduled as the first or the last period in a school timetable.

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Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Parliamentary Opposition Critical Of Zagreb Reconstruction Bill

ZAGREB, Sept 2, 2020- Parliamentary opposition parties on Wednesday strongly criticized the Zagreb reconstruction bill and buildings' environs damaged by a March 22 earthquake. 

"The Zagreb reconstruction bill lacks ambition and cements the existing situation. It restores the situation that existed before the earthquake and does not say what Zagreb should like 10 or 20 years from now," said Pedja Grbin of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

"The bill is impracticable. It contains a lot of disputable things," said Anka Mrak Taritas of the Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS), while Bridge's Marija Selak Raspudic said that it "creates an atmosphere of legal uncertainty" and "bypasses the existing regulations."

Homeland Movement leader Miroslav Skoro raised the question of funding, saying that neither the government nor the City of Zagreb had enough money for the reconstruction.

On the other hand, Ivan Domagoj Milosevic of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) said that the bill was based on three key pillars: political inclusion, the government adopted more than 25 opposition proposals, transparency, and solidarity.

Some of the MPs protested over the epidemiological measures that were unanimously decided by the Parliament Presidency on Tuesday, under which wearing face masks are mandatory and that not more than 41 MPs can be present in the chamber at the same time.

"I would like to thank the Presidency for decimating the MPs and shortening the duration of speeches," Selak Raspudic said ironically.

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic repeated that the Presidency's decision was unanimous and in line with the Rules of Procedure and was meant to ensure the normal functioning of Parliament and prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection.

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Friday, 21 August 2020

MP Grbin Hands In Candidacy For SDP Leader

ZAGREB, Aug 21, 2020 - SDP parliamentarian Pedja Grbin said on Friday that he had handed in his candidacy for the Social Democratic Party leader with almost 1,400 signatures in support of his presidential bid.

Asked about another two candidates for the SDP presidency, Grbin said that Mirela Ahmetovic is an excellent mayor and Zeljko Kolar is an excellent county prefect and both are serious politicians and SDP members who, after the election could be a part of his team.

Grbin said that SDP's defeat in the 5 July parliamentary elections should serve as a springboard for transforming the party for the better. 

He confirmed that a problem exists regarding party membership and membership fees, because of the 33,000 members of the party only about 6,000 regularly pay membership fees, he said adding that this was because of the membership's disappointment in the party.

The election won't be legitimate if the majority of membership does not vote

I appealed to the leadership and that has brought results and regular paying members now count about 12,000 and I hope there will be more, he said.

He believes that the election will not be legitimate if at least half or a good portion of SDP members would not vote in the intra-party elections set for 26 September.

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