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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Friday, 21 August 2020

Kolar Presents Candidacy For SDP Leader

ZAGREB, Aug 21, 2020 - Krapina-Zagorje County Prefect Zeljko Kolar on Friday presented his candidacy to run for the leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) at the internal election, saying that he will advocate a modern Croatia with an efficient judicial system and a functioning market economy.

"My desire to run as a candidate did not come overnight. That was not a spontaneous move but the product of my wish for more than necessary changes in the party," he claimed.

He said that he would develop the SDP as a modern center-left party while overcoming rifts inside the SDP.

Thinking about candidacy for prime minister, not a priority now 

Asked whether he would be a candidate for the prime minister's position, Kolar said that that was not a priority now, however, whoever has the best chance of defeating Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic should be the candidate.

That decision is up to the presidency and main committee, Kolar said, and added that he would be willing to support whoever will be the best option.

Remarking on membership numbers which his opponent Grbin spoke about, Kolar said that it was disastrous that of the 34,000 SDP members only 11,500 pay their membership fees and announced that one of his first steps would be to deal with the issue of membership.

Grbin was a member of the presidency in two terms, he could have dealt with that. I wasn't because I was conducting the duties of county prefect, said Kolar.

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Monday, 17 August 2020

Party Presidential Hopeful Unveils His Document For #newSDP

ZAGREB, Aug 17, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) parliamentarian, Pedja Grbin, who has recently announced his aspirations to become the next party president, on Monday presented his document with guidelines for SDP's recovery after its defeat in the Croatian parliamentary elections.

Grbin, who posted the document on social media networks, says that "unfortunately, little has changed for the better in the last four years."

"The document I have posted contains my ideas, guidelines, and suggestions for the recovery of the SDP," he said on his Facebook profile.

The SDP will hold internal elections on 26 September. As of this Monday, candidates will have 15 days to submit their candidacies for the party's president, the presidency and main committee. Those running for the president will need to collect at least 500 signatures from SDP members in support of their bid.

Grbin, who has explicitly stated his intention to take the helm of the party, says that #newSDP must put an emphasis on creating contents, policies and programmes.

He advocates changes in the organisation of this Opposition party, calling for making the party's bodies smaller and easy to operate.

The promotion within the party must be based on the results and achievements in elections and not on interpersonal likes and preferences within the party, Grbin says.

He says that he supports the one member- one vote method, however, warns against manipulation of OMOV when the membership fee is set at a mere one kune for many party members who are then reduced to the role of voting for somebody.

Grbin is therefore in favour of checking the register of party members and the revision and updating of the membership roster.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Daily: HDZ Convincingly Most Popular Party, SDP Sinks to 18% in Approval Ratings

ZAGREB, Aug 7, 2020 - According to a poll by the Promocija Plus agency, there are changes in the balance of power among political parties a month after a parliamentary election but not at the top, Jutarnji List daily said on Friday.

The election winner, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), is the most popular party (32.9%).

The Social Democratic Party is second (18.1%) and the We Can! platform third (11%), replacing the Homeland Movement, which now ranks fourth (8.6%). Bridge is next (8.3%), followed by the Party with a First and Last Name (2.6%).

Pametno, the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), and the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) have a little over 1% in approval ratings.

The most popular politician is Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic for 24.5% of respondents, up from 19.4% in June, followed by President Zoran Milanovic with 11.3% (15.3% in June), Finance Minister Zdravko Maric with 4.5% (2.2% in June) and Health Minister Vili Beros with 4.3%(8.1% in June).

The poll shows that 15.3% of respondents have no favourite politician.

The most negative politician is President Milanovic, followed by Prime Minister Plenkovic and Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic.

(Hina) ha

Saturday, 18 July 2020

SDP Main Committee Calls Leadership Election for Sept 26

ZAGREB, July 18, 2020 - The main committee of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Saturday unanimously decided to call an internal party election for September 26, supporting the proposal put forward by the party's presidency.

The SDP leadership will analyse the results of the July 5 parliament election after the party suffered heavy losses at the ballot box, which has forced Davor Bernardic to step down as SDP president.

Contrary to announcements, Bernardic briefly showed up at the start of the meeting to greet the members of the main committee and thank them for their campaign efforts and the confidence they had placed in him over the last four years.

"I believe that social democracy is the best form of government, and I want you to know that I am here with you. The SDP is moving on, it has a future and let's all make an effort so that it has a good future," Bernardic said briefly before leaving the meeting.

The SDP presidency decided on Friday to call an election for the president, presidency and main committee for September 26. The decision will take effect on August 17, after which candidates will have 15 days to submit their candidacies. Those running for president are required to collect at least 500 signatures from SDP members in support of their bid.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Skoro: HDZ, SDP Agree About Their Interests

ZAGREB, July 3, 2020 - Homeland Movement leader Miroslav Skoro accused the HDZ and the SDP on Friday of agreeing about their interests, although they were supposed to be political opponents, for example, that it was not necessary to amend the election law or revoke their perks.

Speaking at the final campaign press conference, Skoro said he was not worried about the election results because he believed in a better tomorrow, but that he was worried about a deep rift in Croatian society given that 50% of eligible citizens did not wish to vote.

"We are offering this state the possibility to make a move with good far-reaching consequences. They are offering another move with bad consequences."

Skoro said he feared what would happen after Sunday's election because the epidemiological situation was not good. "The whole world is closing again, only we are opening and exposing ourselves in the interest of one man and two parties, Andrej Plenkovic, in the interest of the HDZ and the SDP."

Plenkovic and Bernardic can't be prime ministers

Asked if he was willing to sit down on Monday and talk about the next government, Skoro said the Homeland Movement was willing to talk with anyone who wished Croatia well. He added, however, that neither HDZ president Plenkovic nor SDP president Davor Bernardic could be a prime minister.

Skoro said he did not think a new election would be called because there were enough smart and wise people who would recognise the need to remove Plenkovic and Bernardic.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

SDP Leader Says DIP's Instructions Scandalous

ZAGREB, July 1, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardic said on Wednesday that instructions by the State Electoral Commission (DIP) on voting on election day in the context of the coronavirus pandemic were scandalous, calling on the government to enable all voters to go to the polls.

"Should it happen that some citizens are not enabled to vote, elections would be irregular. The government wanted elections, they made the decision and now they have to enable all citizens to participate in the elections in line with the Constitution," Bernardic said.

He called DIP's instructions scandalous because he believes that DIP is not authorised to ban people with a high temperature to vote.

"Have they made sure those people can exercise their right somehow, that is what this is about," he warned.

Bernardic stressed that a government that was unable to make it possible for all citizens to go to the polls was incapable of implementing elections or running the country.

The government has opened the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina as it counted on the votes of ethnic Croats crossing the border, Bernardic said, noting that Bosnia and Herzegovina were among European countries with the highest rates of new cases of COVID-19.

Commenting on the latest claims by Homeland Movement leader Miroslav Skoro that neither Andrej Plenkovic nor Bernardic could be prime minister, Bernardic said that Skoro was trying to form a coalition with the HDZ.

"He is hoping for a coalition with the HDZ and offering the prime minister the post of foreign minister. In the current situation, the message is very clear - a vote for Skoro is a vote for the HDZ and vice versa," said Bernardic.

He said his party's approval ratings were positive and that all surveys predicted victory for the SDP-led RESTART coalition.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Plenkovic, Bernardic: There Will Be No Grand Coalition

ZAGREB, June 30, 2020- HDZ president and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and SDP president and Restart Coalition leader Davor Bernardic said on Monday they did not want a grand coalition after the election and that one of their first moves after it would be the adoption of a law on the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb.

"A grand coalition with the SDP, never," Plenkovic said in their first TV debate on RTL television.

Bernardic said a grand coalition was out of the question "with a party on trial for corruption and whose 11 ministers had to leave the government on suspicion of corruption."

He said that after the July 5 vote Restart could form a coalition with left and centre-left parties, but never with Miroslav Skoro's Homeland Movement, Bridge, or Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic's party.

"A vote for Skoro is obviously a vote for the HDZ," said Bernardic, while Plenkovic said Skoro proved to be a great SDP ally in the presidential election and that he felt centre-right voters would not disperse their votes by voting for Skoro.

Plenkovic asked Bernardic why he would not form a coalition with Bandic, saying he was "his pupil" and that Bandic helped him become the president of the SDP.

Bernardic: HDZ has left Zagreb residents in the lurch; Plenkovic: HDZ has given HRK 1.7 million for reconstruction, you have given nothing

Speaking of the adoption of a Zagreb reconstruction law, Bernardic said Restart would present a bill on Tuesday "because we are responsible and that will be one of our government's first moves."

He said the Plenkovic cabinet left the people of Zagreb in the lurch because they would have no accommodation when winter came, adding that this was irresponsible and should not have happened.

Plenkovic said the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union), its MPs and government members had donated HRK 1.7 million for the reconstruction of the capital after the March quake and the SDP (Social Democratic Party) nothing, and that in the revised budget the government set aside HRK 141 million for intervention works on damaged buildings.

He added that the state was paying rent for all who could not stay in their flats after the quake and that the government was paying HRK 3 million for the expenses of those temporarily accommodated in a student dorm. "The bill is ready and it will be the first our next parliament will enact."

Bernardic: Ustasha salute should be outlawed

Speaking of the "For the homeland ready" salute, Bernardic said it should be banned by law also in the coat of arms of the HOS militia from the 1991-95 Homeland War. He said the salute suited Serbia and those using it against Croatia. "There is no place for the Ustasha salute in the public sphere."

Plenkovic said a former SDP government legalised the salute in the coat of arms of a Zagreb HOS association, adding that he was personally against it. "It has no place in the public sphere, except in small exemptions which we have done out of respect for Croatian war veterans."

Speaking of the education reform, Bernardic said Restart's goal was to educate children for the labour market, improve PISA test results, and introduce civic education.

Plenkovic said the education reform was launched during the incumbent government which, he added, aligned education with labour market requirements and increased the Science and Education Ministry budget by over 30%.

Plenkovic: Bernardic has shown a lack of knowledge about European topics

Speaking of Croatia's EU presidency, Bernardic said Croatia "slept through it" and that it did not raise the issue of the novel coronavirus or migrants. "We did absolutely nothing during the Croatian presidency."

Plenkovic said Bernardic had shown a lack of knowledge about those topics and that the Croatian presidency had ensured an orderly Brexit and agreed on a mandate for negotiations on future EU-UK relations, among other things, and that Bernardic had never shown the slightest interest in European topics.

Coronavirus response

Speaking of COVID-19, Bernardic said Croatia did not procure the necessary equipment in time and that it was doing too few tests, calling the national response team a political body whose decisions encroached on some constitutional rights.

"You haven't taken any responsibility for the deaths of 20 residents of the (care) home in Split. The lockdown was imposed after elections in the HDZ... You endangered citizens' health then and you are doing the same thing now," said Bernardic.

"Thanks to our engagement, we have not only saved lives and the economy, but we were also the first in the EU to launch a COVID response mechanism, we protected hospitals. In Europe, the virus has claimed most lives in homes for the elderly. Our achievement is that we've had only 107 deaths," Plenkovic responded.

Bernardic: You pushed Croatia into an election; Plenkovic: We wish to have a stable government by autumn

Plenkovic said experts were predicting a second COVID-19 wave in the autumn and that he wished to have a stable new government by then.

Bernardic said Plenkovic had pushed Croatia into a parliamentary election despite a rise in new infections, that he was opening the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina only so that HDZ sympathisers could come to Croatia to vote, and that by refusing to self-isolate after a recent tennis tournament in Zadar, Plenkovic was putting the tourist season at risk.

"Hungary and Slovenia will close their borders. (Their tourists) won't be coming to (our) sea because they will have to self-isolate (upon returning) home," said Bernardic.

He went on to say that if his coalition came to power, it would adopt a moratorium on loan payments because this government, he added, had failed to so, siding with banks. "We have sent a proposal for a shorter work week because of the EU's SURE programme."

"I'm flabbergasted that you want to be prime minister, you know nothing," responded Plenkovic. "The EU Next Generation is a new instrument. My government in October 2016 encountered 9% of contracted funds, 1% paid out. Today we have 96% agreed and 36% paid out. We are fighting to get another €22 billion in the next seven years. I hope such ignorance won't have the opportunity to represent Croatia in the EU. I'm disappointed, you could have prepared, it saddens me."

Bernardic: Who believes you?

Asked about the minimum wage, which amounts to HRK 3,250, Plenkovic said that during the SDP government it went up to HR 250 and during his 750.

"Before COVID, the public debt was reduced to 73% of GDP. It used to be 81%. We are trying to make the quality of life better for everyone. Croatian citizens live better than four years ago," he said, adding that his government had relieved citizens and businesses of HRK 9 billion in taxes.

"Who believes you? Investors don't believe you. We have fallen on the Doing Business ranking. You have collected HRK 15 billion more in taxes, yet you talk about relief. Entrepreneurs are burdened," countered Bernardic.

He said that after the election he would reduce the number of ministries and abolish the State Assets Ministry, calling it a made-up ministry. "Our goal is a smaller state administration, fewer municipalities and towns, and tax relief. Plenkovic and the HDZ had four years, yet they didn't do it."

Plenkovic too announced fewer ministries, saying he would say how many after winning the election.

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