Monday, 31 May 2021

What Will New Zagreb Mayor Tomasevic Do for Capital's Citizens First?

May the 31st, 2021 - Zagreb has a new mayor and a major political shift has taken place in numerous places across the country which were former HDZ strongholds. With the results finally in after the second round, just what does brand new Zagreb mayor Tomasevic from Mozemo! (We Can!) promise to do for the capital's residents?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the new Zagreb mayor Tomasevic said last night that he expects the official handover to take place at the end of the week and that the first meetings are expected as early as today.

"I'm going to proudly lead this city to a better future and I will be the mayor for all of its citizens, both those for whom I was the choice and those for whom I wasn't the choice. I believe that all of the citizens of this city, regardless of how they voted and whether they went to the polls at all, want better living conditions in their neighbourhoods, more accessible kindergartens, better healthcare services, more care homes, better public transport, better bike paths, more green areas, they want this city to finally give a bit of perspective to young people,'' said the new Zagreb mayor Tomasevic when giving his winning speech.

Tomasevic and his party Mozemo! announced that they'd reduce the existing 27 city offices, and thus the head offices, down to about 15. This of course also requires a vote in the Assembly. However, the late Milan Bandic's top people will not be easily replaced - the contracts for 11 of them will cease to be valid by the end of the year, but some of them have contracts for another three years and Zagreb mayor Tomasevic cannot dismiss them, even if he fully cancels their positions in the city's offices.

"We;'l talk to all of those people and directors, we'll see what projects are underway, what the deadlines are. There will be a normal transition of power. We'll have about 15 city offices, and for coordination, 27 offices are way too many, that's clear,'' said Tomasevic after the first round.

He also spoke about his first moves between the two rounds of local elections.

“We can immediately restructure the city administration and establish a city office for reconstruction. Currently, 80 percent of apartment buildings haven't even submitted a request for renovation, because people are struggling with documentation, which is a failure of both the city and the state. The city has the human capacity to form an office that will help people meet the requirements, that they don't have to collect documentation by going to city and state offices, but that we do it for them and communicate with people on their own doorsteps. The first thing that will be felt immediately after the change of government will be in the city administration, which will become open, accessible and transparent,'' Zagreb's new mayor assured, giving hope to many still struggling shamefully after the March 2020 earthquake struck Zagreb.

For more, follow our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 31 May 2021

Tomašević Calls on Zagreb Residents To Participate in Decision-Making

May 31st, 2021 - Zagreb's new mayor Tomislav Tomašević said in his first address as mayor-elect on Sunday that residents of Zagreb had put trust in his ability to run the city, calling on them to participate in decision-making on the city's development.

"Thank you, Zagreb! Thank you for your trust, hope, your belief that a true change is possible. Thank you for a clear mandate for a real change. Thank you for believing in me, in yourselves, and all of us," Tomašević said in the address at his campaign headquarters at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

"We will do our best to justify your trust," he said, also thanking voters who did not vote for him and stressing that in time he hoped to gain their approval as well with a better model of governance and better quality of life for all.

Tomašević said that he had been fighting all his life for the city and its interests and against harmful agreements and decisions by those who, he said, had captured the city, systematically neglecting it and using it as their own cash machine.

He recalled that his campaign for Zagreb started back in 1998 when he was 16 and fought against the illegal dumping of hazardous waste in gravel pits by the River Sava.

"Twenty-three years later, here we are, together with the best team with whom I have been fighting for years for a juster, more solidary, and more tolerant society. Those are the people with whom I share a vision for Zagreb as a greener, more just, and more transparent city," said Tomašević.

"I will proudly lead this city to a better future, and I will be the mayor of all its residents, both those who voted for me and those who did not," he said.

"I believe that all residents of Zagreb, regardless of how they voted and whether they voted at all, want better living conditions in their neighborhoods, more available child care, better health care, more retirement, and nursing homes, better public transportation, better cycle lanes, and more green areas and that they want this city to finally make it possible for young people to have a future here," he said.

"Our mission will not last only until the next election; we look much farther into the future because the city's long-term wellbeing is the most important to us. Zagreb, you have given me your trust, and I ask you to participate, together with us, in making decisions on the city's development," said Tomašević.

He also called for patience, adding that a lot of work lay ahead and that the changes the city was about to undergo were neither quick nor simple.

In Sunday's runoff election for Zagreb mayor, Tomašević won 199,630 votes, the most votes so far. Before him, the largest number of votes was won by the city's long-serving mayor, the late Milan Bandić, who in 2013 won 170,798 votes.

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

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Zagreb's Acting Mayor Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic Leaving Politics

May the 30th, 2021 - Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic, who stepped in as Zagreb's mayor following the premature and sudden death of longtime mayor Milan Bandic, has decided to leave the political scene and pursue another career in a very different field.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic, the current acting Mayor of Zagreb, failed to enter the second round of recent Croatian mayoral elections, so she decided on a change in her career path, opting instead to kickstart her scientific career as an assistant professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb, Jutarnji list reported on Saturday.

The Faculty of Kinesiology announced on its website that Dr. sc. Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic is to give an inaugural lecture as "an application in the process of election to the title of scientific-teaching title of assistant professor in the scientific field of social sciences, scientific field of pedagogy, for the subjects of pedagogy and didactics" on Wednesday.

Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic, while known for stepping into the role of Zagreb's mayor following Bandic's untimely death, is otherwise a doctor of science. Back in 2018 she received her doctorate in pedagogy, and now, after becoming an assistant professor, she will be able to work as an independent lecturer.

Her associates have confirmed that she will remain here in the Republic of Croatia and that she will teach at the Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb following her doctorate.

There was speculation in the media that Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic could leave Croatia upon stepping down from her current political role at the capital's helm.

The above could be heard being circulated in the corridors of the city administration because her husband works abroad, and she herself has openly said that such a possibility exists for her too, but that it is the least possible option when compared to remaining here in the country.

For more on Croatian politics, make sure to follow our dedicated section.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Croatia Holding Election Runoffs on Sunday

ZAGREB, 29 May 2021 - The second round of local elections will take place on Sunday for the mayors of 57 cities and 87 municipalities as well as for the prefects of 14 counties in Croatia.

During the second round of voting, 3,231,000 citizens are eligible to vote at nearly, 5,500 polling stations that will be set up in 432 cities and municipalities.

Four biggest cities to get new mayors

The results of mayoral runoffs will show who will run the four biggest Croatian in the next four years. In the capital city of Zagreb, the mayoral candidate of the Green-Left Coalition, Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can party faces off Miroslav Škoro of the Homeland Movement party (DP), whereas in Split, the mayoral runoff includes Vice Mihanović of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Ivica Puljak of the Centre party.

In Rijeka, Marko Filipović of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and independent Davor Štimac are vying for the mayoral of this northern Adriatic seaport, and in Osijek, Ivan Radić of the HDZ and Berislav Mlinarević, supported by the DP party and the Bridge party, are running in the mayoral runoff.

Those four cities will have new mayors, as none of the incumbents are in the mayoral race. In Zagreb Milan Bandić, who was at the helm of the city for 20 years, died of heart attacks on 28 February.

The outgoing mayors of Osijek and Split, Ivica Vrkić and Andro Krstulović Opara (HDZ), decided not to run for a new term, citing health reasons.

The outgoing Rijeka mayor Vojko Obersnel, an SDP official, who has been at the helm of Rijeka since 2000,  said before these local elections that the time had come for younger politicians to take the helm and supported Marko Filipović of the SDP as his successor.

Another major cities, which are county seats, for instance Varaždin, Dubrovnik, Vukovar and Sisak will have the mayoral runoffs between the incumbents and the new opponents.

In Pula, which was run by Boris Miletić of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) until these polls, the IDS official Helena Puh Belci faces off independent candidate Filip Zoričić.

Six counties get prefects in 1st round, 14 to have runoffs

Six counties elected their prefects in the first round of voting on 16 May, when the winners won more than 50% of the ballot, and the remaining 14 counties will have runoffs for their prefects on Sunday.

Of those six winners in the first round, four are HDZ representatives: Antonija Jozić of Požega-Slavona, Igor Andrilović of Virovitica-Podravina County, Ivan Anušić of Osijek-Baranja County and Danijel Marušić of Slavonski-Brod Posavina County.

Social Democrat (SDP) official Željko Kolar was reelected prefect of Krapina-Zagorje County and Matija Posavec, an independent candidate, was reelected as the head of Međimurje County.

In the other 14 counties, the first two vote-getters will participate in the runoffs on 30 May.

Anti-epidemic measures to be implemented at polling stations

Voters going to the polls on Sunday are required to wear protective masks and they are also advised to have their own pencils. Although the epidemiological situation has improved since the first round of the voting, the same anti-epidemic measures will be implemented on Sunday.

Polling stations open from 7 am to 7 pm

The polling stations will open on 7 am and close at 7 pm. The course of voting will be observed by 8,334 monitors, and the lion's share of them have been proposed by political parties running in the elections, while a mere 17 monitors will be at polling stations on behalf of nongovernmental organisations

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Green-Left Mayoral Candidate Says He Doesn't Have Police Protection

ZAGREB, 27 May 2021 - The candidate of the Green-Left coalition for the new mayor of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomašević, said on Thursday that he had neither asked for the police protection nor did he have it.

Tomašević insists that the campaign in the run-up to the second round of the mayoral election in which he will face off Homeland Movement leader Miroslav Škoro is marked by hate and incendiary speech and fake news as never before.

Addressing the press in Zagreb today, Tomašević said that he had come to the venue of this news conference by tram and on foot just as he had done yesterday.

"I do not have the police protection, I have not requested it. Yesterday, you saw the stepped-up police presence as part of their regular activities at some of our gatherings," Tomašević said after on Wednesday police officers were spotted standing near the venue of Tomašević's news conference, which prompted media outlets and some politicians to speculate that Tomašević was given the police protection.

In response to reporters' questions on Wednesday, if he had been given police protection, Tomašević told reporters to ask police about that because security assessment was not what he and his colleagues did.

Concerning this topic, President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday afternoon that he would bet that Zagreb mayoral candidate Tomašević had been receiving threats given his opponent Miroslav Škoro's incendiary campaign.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said the left parties in Zagreb kept quiet about the attacks on him and his HDZ party yet were now appalled by mayoral candidate Škoro's attacks. "Now you hear the aggrieved crying of all the people who otherwise keep quiet, and that's the phenomenon of the Zagreb election. You have the left which is now crying, yet is otherwise silent."

However, Tomašević said today that "nobody from the left is crying now".

"I do not have the police protection, I and my assistant have come together. There is no police here," Tomašević said adding that he feels safe and that he has not received any serious threat to date.

He reiterated that it was up to the police to assess security threats concerning the public gatherings of his political party and their sympathizers.

He said that when it came to fake news  "there is a direct connection between" his opponent Miroslav Škoro and the funding of the fake news publication on social networks.

Tomašević said that he would consider taking possible legal action after the completion of the mayoral runoff.

 "We are now focused on the second round of the elections," he added.

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

Monday, 24 May 2021

HRK742K So Far Spent on Tomašević's Campaign, Nearly 251K Collected in Donations

May 24, 2021 - The Mi Možemo and Zagreb je Naš political groups supporting the mayoral candidate have spent 741 598 kunas on Tomašević's campaign of this candidate for the new Zagreb mayor. In contrast, they have collected 250,668 kunas in donations, according to the data they provided last Friday.

On 21 May, the We Can party and its coalition partners submitted an updated financial report on the campaign's funding in the run-up to the Zagreb mayor's elections.

The report shows that they have received donations from 631 individuals and legal entities.

The average amount of a donation is thus HRK 397.25.

This Green-Left coalition shows that the funding for the campaign mainly relied on smaller individual donations provided by residents, which they interpret as a sign of broad support of the local population.

They also thanked all who raised funds for this campaign.

(€1 = HRK 7.503288)

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

Monday, 17 May 2021

Miroslav Škoro: We Have Achieved Our Goals, We'll Stop The Left

17 May 2021 - The Homeland Movement's candidate for Zagreb mayor, Miroslav Škoro, said on Sunday night, the party had achieved its goals and that they would stop and unmask the green-left coalition trying to conquer Zagreb, calling it extremely leftist.

That is not the future of our country, of Zagreb and our children, said Škoro, who will be in the mayoral runoff with Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can! platform, who has won 45% of the vote in Sunday's elections.

Škoro said he was confident that he would show in the runoff that there was enough sense and intelligence "so that we can unmask in a well-argued debate what is called the green-left coalition."

"That's neither green nor only left-wing. That's first and foremost and above all extremely left-wing, and it will be stopped in the runoff."

Škoro said that despite the big job ahead, he was sure that with faith in God and His help, Zagreb would have a new mayor in two weeks who was not from any green or left coalition but a person who would continue the city's tradition and all that contemporary democracy was in the current world.

He said that in just one year of its existence, the Homeland Movement had achieved enormous results, leaving behind the two major parties, the HDZ and the SDP, in many municipalities and cities, including in Zagreb.

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

Saturday, 13 March 2021

GLAS Leader Enters Race for Mayor in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 13 March 2021 - The leader of the Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS) party, Anka Mrak Taritaš, on Saturday announced her intention to run for the mayor of Zagreb.

The slogan of her campaign is "Change I am not Afraid of".

Presenting her programme, Mrak-Taritaš, said that there had been too many flippant projects and "we should seriously get to work."

Mrak-Taritaš said that her party had initially negotiated with the We Can party about a coalition for the Zagreb mayoral race and later with the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and admitted that the negotiations with both parties had failed.

The GLAS chief dismissed remarks from the press that her election platform resembled that of the We Can political group. Mrak Taritaš answered that she had had that platform and pursued the same policy four years ago when she was defeated by a small margin by Mayor Milan Bandić, who was re-elected to the post.

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

Monday, 4 January 2021

Index Investigation: Milan Bandic Took HRK 3.35 Million from Schools, Gave to Snow Queen Instead

January 4, 2021 - An Index.hr investigation has revealed that Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic took HRK 3.35 Million from schools and gave it to the Snow Queen skiing competition instead. 

The earthquake in March severely damaged several schools and kindergartens in Zagreb, and the coronavirus pandemic revealed that some schools did not have hot water or soap to wash students' hands and maintain basic hygiene. When distance learning began, we learned that the system did not work and that teachers did not have the equipment to provide quality teaching.

Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic ignored all these problems or even mocked them, saying that students could wash their hands with ashes, just like he did as a child.

Index.hr. has now learned that Bandic took HRK 3.35 million from the Education Office in one of the last decisions in 2020. Namely, on November 30, 2020, Bandic issued a Conclusion on the redistribution of funds planned in the City of Zagreb Budget for 2020 and transferred money from the Education Office to the Sports Office.

"Funds of HRK 3,350,000.00 are transferred from the City Education Office to the City Sports and Youth Office for the activity of a Great Sports Event, to provide the necessary funds for the international sports event, the Snow Queen and the Snow King Ski Cup 2021," reads Bandic's explanation.

In the second part of the explanation, the Snow Queen is praised as a manifestation that contributed to skiing interest. On the other hand, in the Official Gazette, there are only 273 registered skiers in the Zagreb area, who, if they want quality skiing, must train outside Croatia.

"The Snow Queen has become a trademark of the City of Zagreb and the Republic of Croatia, giving the City of Zagreb, at the time of the event, a special charm and atmosphere," reads the explanation at a time when it was already known that the race would be held without spectators and that it would not bring anything to Zagreb except a snow trail surrounded by mud. The Bandic City Administration was also aware of that.

"Due to the possible lack of snow and high temperatures, as well as climate change, it is necessary to continue to improve the snowmaking system and infrastructure to prepare the track in time and to avoid possible race cancellations, which occurred in 2014 and 2016," reads the explanation of the Conclusion, by which the money is taken from schools and given to the ski competition.

By the way, the total budget of this year's competition is HRK 21 million, of which at least a third, or seven million kuna, is paid directly by the city from the budget, from taxes and surcharges collected from citizens. The remainder comes from the work of Zagreb Holding employees and the last HRK 3.35 million stolen from children, says Index.

The Zagreb Education Office does not see anything disputable because HRK 3.35 million went to the Snow Queen.

"We emphasize the fact that the redistribution of planned budget funds is common at the end of the calendar or budget year. Because funds for the reconstruction of damaged buildings are provided and paid following the phases of the work performed, the unspent funds were redistributed in the budget of the City of Zagreb for other city offices," said Ivica Lovrić, head of the Education Office, to Index's inquiry.

In the same response, in addition to praising themselves for everything they have done since 2016, it states that the earthquake "damaged 175 educational facilities, of which 162 have already been renovated, and the reconstruction of the remaining 13 is underway. Their restoration will be completed in the next year or two, depending on the type and extent of damage to the individual facility."

Everything is fine, claims Lovrić; you just have to wait a year or two.

To read more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

 

Monday, 14 December 2020

Bridge's Zvonimir Troskot to Run in Zagreb Mayoral Election

ZAGREB, Dec 14, 2020 - MP Zvonimir Troskot of the opposition Bridge party will be the party's candidate for Mayor of Zagreb in local elections in May next year, Bridge announced on its Facebook page on Sunday.

Troskot has been a financial manager and auditor for large foreign companies and has led one of the biggest referendum initiatives in Croatia. He is well respected in his party as a person full of empathy and understanding for others. He has demonstrated remarkable leadership qualities and seeks to restore the citizens' trust in politics and politicians, Bridge said.

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