Monday, 19 October 2020

SDP Says Gov't Hasn't Facilitated Position of Citizens Facing Enforcement

ZAGREB, October 19, 2020 - The Social Democratic Party called out the government on Monday, saying that even though it knew that the moratorium on enforcement procedures expired today, it did nothing to facilitate the position of citizens who could not settle their obligations due to the economic crisis.

The strongest opposition party said in a press release that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his HDZ party jeopardised the livelihoods of thousands of citizens by rejecting the SDP proposal that the moratorium be extended for at least three more months so that an aid package could be prepared and a new law passed.

The SDP said it was still not too late and proposed to those in power to endorse the bills the SDP had presented last week.

"We are aware of the fact that debts must be paid, but the economic and health crisis we are in calls for a little more sympathy for the citizens than the government is showing," the press release said.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

SDP Again Calls on HDZ to Support Establishment of JANAF Inquiry Commission

ZAGREB, October 11, 2020 - Social Democratic Party president Pedja Grbin on Sunday once again called on the ruling HDZ to support the establishment of a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the JANAF oil pipeline operator corruption affair.

The SDP is very clearly appealing to the HDZ, if there is something in the motion for the establishment of the commission of inquiry that doesn't suit you, tell us, we'll sit down and talk, and amend it if necessary, Grbin said in Velika Gorica.

Don't hide behind technicalities to stop what is crucial for Croatia at the moment, which is, let's take measures so that we can find out what is happening with our investigations, where there is political pressure, why information is leaking, and let's create a framework to prevent that, he added.

Grbin said he was visiting Velika Gorica to make a clear statement about the fight against corruption because it best illustrated how corruption developed, from utility companies to the town given that the mayor, Dragan Barisic of the HDZ, was in custody.

Barisic is one of 14 people in the JANAF affair whom the USKOK anti-corruption office is investigating for influence peddling, bribery and abuse of office.

Grbin also said the SDP had started preparing for the May 2021 local elections.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Croatia Could Never Move Forward Without Strong SDP, Says Grbin

ZAGREB, October 10, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Pedja Grbin said at a founding session of the SDP Main Committee on Saturday that Croatia could never move forward without a strong SDP and that that would continue to be so.

"In the recent intraparty election the SDP has shown that it is still here, that we can create ideas, proposals, suggestions and visions that will push forward not only the party but, much more importantly, our country," Grbin said in his address at the event which completed the intraparty election process and at which the party secretary-general, the Main Committee chair, the executive chairman and other personnel were elected.


Hate speech, economic inequalities on the rise

"A strong SDP is one that speaks about outstanding, crucial issues in our society. Hate speech has been on the rise, economic inequalities are growing, there is a large number of enforcement procedures that have to be carried out and that will again leave hundreds of thousands of citizens with blocked bank accounts. The country is in an economic crisis, and the government has entrusted the national COVID-19 response team, probably because it fears for the ruling majority in the parliament, with making decisions on its behalf that restrict citizens' freedoms and rights," said Grbin.

"As of today, we are all building the SDP as a party that will fight for economic equality, a just society, eradication of corruption that destroys the facbric of our society, a party that will fight for solidarity, economic and every other, and a party fighting for freedom from hate speech and freedom to be different and not to be attacked because of that," said Grbin.

The founding session of the Main Committee unanimously elected former MP and assistant education minister Marija Lugaric as SDP Main Committee chair.

The head of Grbin's election campaign, Vedran Babic, was elected secretary-general, with one vote against and one abstention, and Igor Cigula was unanimously elected executive chairman.

The Main Committee session was held after earlier this week most members of the SDP parliamentary group refused Grbin's proposal for personnel changes in parliamentary positions alocated to the SDP but tensions have in the meantime abated and there has been no open conflict or rift in the party.   

Former party leader Davor Bernardic and former acting president Zlatko Komadina told reporters, while arriving for the session, that they expected there would be no problems at the meeting and that the party would consolidate and move on.

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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