Croatian Government Falls – No Love In Politics

Left: Domagoj Ivan Milosevic, Gen Sec. HDZ Right: Tomislav Karamarko, President HDZ Photo: Marko Prpic/Pixsell

Left: Domagoj Ivan Milosevic, Gen Sec. HDZ
Right: Tomislav Karamarko, President HDZ
Photo: Marko Prpic/Pixsell

 

What gigantic three days of last week in the political life of Croatia.
In the wake of the Commission for conflicts of interests decision that conflict of interest applied to him in the case of INA/MOL and his wife’s business dealings, the leader of the majority party in government, Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ Tomislav Karamarko on Wednesday 15 June resigned as First Deputy Prime Minister; but not without emphasising that HDZ, as relatively major seat holder in parliament, was not giving up its fight to form a new government within the 30 days defined by law after a fall of government and that new elections were the very last option HDZ would look to. Indeed, HDZ has been giving confident reassurances that it has decided upon its candidate for the new Prime Minister (current finance minister Zdravko Maric) and that it will in the ensuing legally defined period of 30 days from the fall of current government succeed in achieving 76-seat majority in the parliament.

 

Tihomir Oreskovic, fallen Prime Minister of Croatia Photo: Marko Lukunic/Pixsell

Tihomir Oreskovic,
fallen Prime Minister of Croatia
Photo: Marko Lukunic/Pixsell

The current coalition government fell on Thursday 16 June after only five months in the throne as the Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic lost a confidence vote in the parliament.

 

Then in a move that evoked sizeable anger and resentment towards her seeming disrespect of rules and bias, president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic wasted no time in hogging the public microphone on Friday 17 June, saying that “nobody I spoke with has (during the consultations she had held with members of parliament since the day before) convinced me they enjoy the needed support of 76 or more representatives to achieve the status of Prime Minister.”

I can confirm that a majority has expressed the opinion about the need for early elections,” she continued, adding that it was impossible to shorten the period of 30 days guaranteed by the Constitution and appealed to the president of the parliament Zeljko Reiner to bring the matter of dissolution of the parliament to its agenda as soon as possible! Reportedly most representatives she spoke to expressed the opinion that new elections should be held in early September, however, as per previous practice, one would expect that she would hold more than just one consultation within this important realm that gives her the responsibility to ensure Croatia has a government in place.

 

This is what’s on Croatia’s political plate at this moment:

parliamentary relative majority party HDZ seeks to utilise its constitutional right of 30 days to form a new coalition government rather than go to snap elections;
the country’s president appeals for the parliament to table the decision on its own dissolution prior to the expiry of those 30 days in order to make way for snap elections;
HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko has announced his appeal against the conflict of interest findings to the Administrative tribunal.

 

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic President of Croatia Photo: Marko Prpic/Pixsell

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
President of Croatia
Photo: Marko Prpic/Pixsell

 

 

As one might expect, this president’s move is fanning ongoing speculations and political postulations as to whether and why in fact the parliament should be dissolved on the day when 30 days expire (15 July 2016). The president’s move appears to be feeding a good deal of members of parliament to keep driving loud opinions that HDZ should bow out of its right to 30 days to form a new government and simply join the rest in speeding up the dissolution. This, of course, is causing a good deal of distressing confusion in public as well as to a politically staged diversion from HDZ’s inherent rights to try and quell ruffled-up spirits and save the government without the need for new elections. The political platform is rife with a push for snap elections, which also reveals many a new political ambition for all-important thrones including the one of the Prime Minister. Even Zagreb’s mayor Milan Bandic, who has till “yesterday” supported Karamarko, has reveled his newfound (?) ambition to put forth his name as candidate for Prime Minister at snap elections, for which he is suddenly raising his other hand. Bandic comments on his stand with the worn-down cliché “…there’s no love (meaning lasting devotion) in politics.” (HRT TV news 18 June 2016)

 

As to the findings of conflict of interest against Tomislav Karamarko, leader of HDZ, these do not seem to have shaken HDZ’s resolve to keep him at the party’s helm for the time being, except with a number of members including Tomislav Tolusic, regional development and EU funds minister, and a political cadaver Vladimir Seks, who I think should have retired from HDZ a long, long time ago. A prominent founding HDZ member and former minister of science and technology dr Ivica Kostovic said for HRT TV news Saturday 18 June that his “experience since he had entered into the government was that he met perhaps 1% of people who were not in a conflict of interest”. (HRT TV news 18 June 2016)

Zeljko Reiner President of Croatian Parliament In response to president's statement Says that HDZ may succeed in forming new government and that new elections may not be needed

Zeljko Reiner
President of Croatian Parliament
In response to president’s statement
Says that HDZ may succeed
in forming new government
and that new elections may not be needed

Indeed, being in conflict of interest seems to have been a dark legacy left from public office administration of former Yugoslavia. That, of course, does not excuse any continuance of operating with conflict of interest – it simply highlights the need to deal with it properly as cases arise and that seems to have been the spirit of Dr Kostovic’s comment.

 

 

Karamarko has wowed that he will take the Commission’s decision to the Administrative tribunal, as he believes he was not in conflict of interest as found by it. It would seem that the Commission had weighed against Karamarko a reported detail that he did not declare his wife’s business dealings with the Hungarian MOL at a reported government meeting, from which there are apparently no detailed minutes, when matter of arbitration regarding INA/MOL issue (i.e. taking back Croatian ownership prevalence in the company of national importance – INA) was discussed. But, reportedly he also did not participate in any decision-making at the said meeting, either. The latter then would raise some alarms regarding the credibility of the Commission’s decision itself. The Commission, as evidencing conflict of interest, reportedly also took into account Karamarko’s personal Facebook status, which said that he was personally committed to Croatia pulling out of arbitration with MOL!

 

Karamarko commented that his personal opinions are well known to the public but that he has never imposed them upon third persons. “I have never had a single meeting on the Government premises with the arbitration on the agenda … It’s possible that I have had meetings outside the Government with Josip Petrovic (MOL’s consultant) but INA and MOL have never been the topic of those meetings.”

Dalija Oreskovic Photo: Dalibor Urukalovic/Pixsell

Dalija Oreskovic
Photo: Dalibor Urukalovic/Pixsell

 

The Commission’s head, Dalija Oreskovic, commented that “Karamarko cannot separate his private opinions from himself as a public figure and that, in that sense, he fell into conflict of interest.” She added “he used his political influence in connection to his opinion about arbitration, so that the potential or possible conflict of interest in these personal opinions and public intercessions point to the finding that the official found himself in a situation where conflict of interest was realised…”

In defending himself against the motion of no confidence last Wednesday, Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic told the parliament that the real reason for his ouster was that he started resolving the dispute between INA and MOL, adding that someone was not pleased with it (evidently alluding to Karamarko). It will be interesting to see what the Administrative tribunal will decide regarding private vs public lives (opinions) of a public official. At this stage HDZ wants to reshuffle the government with a new prime minister (Zdravko Maric), with Karamarko remaining as the party leader and digging its heels in at this may work, but it also may not. Next week or so will show whether the worn-down cliché “there’s no love in politics” is actually a double-edged sword that can either damage or benefit HDZ’s efforts to survive in parliament without snap elections. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Comments

  1. Damir Damien says:

    There were no unlawful dealings and no case to answer, but there was a possibility of conflict of interest in the future, the only thing they held against the minister when asked by the media did he know the Hungarian ceo, he didn’t reply to the media, where he should of said yes i had dealings through one of my businesses in 2006, when elected he stopped all dealings….. He will take it to the high court to clear his name

    Like

    • The Commission’s decision seems flawed at first glance but that is likely to be decided upon by the Administrative tribunal or even high court, as you suggest, to which Karamarko may be heading with his appeal

      Like

  2. Your president is quite hot. We had Magaret Thatcher and she wasn’t.
    Slaven Bilic is the manager of my local football team (West Ham United) He’s not very hot either (in my opinion) but he’s a great manager and we all love him 😀

    Like

    • Well, Whelk – it seems Slaven Bilic is hot at something 🙂 As to Margaret Thatcher – she was hot, very hot in political stamina. Whether one liked her politics or not one always knew where one stood which at present cannot be said for Croatia’s president who seems to be stepping on toes quite often – and, Thatcher was a true ally in Croatia’s efforts to secede from communist Yugoslavia – had she stayed as UK Prime Minister longer than 1990 there would have been much less blood spilled in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina…

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s interesting Ina. Thatcher is a very divisive figure here. People either love her or loathe her. Personally I loathed her right-wing policies, but she did make it possible for me to buy my house. Slaven Bilic never did that but I like him much more 😀

        Like

      • Know what you mean for Thatcher in Britain, Whelk, but as far as Croatian independence is concerned she is still a big star, she put quite a bit of wind under Croatian independence movement back in her day and had received a Croatian medal of Honour for her support for the new democracy, following is one example by way of video

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a funny old world Ina. In Croatia you worship Mrs Thatcher and in East London we love Slavan Bilic. That’s multiculturism that is 🙂

        Like

      • Ain’t it grand, Whelk 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Moreno P says:

    From Facebook: a week is a long time in politics(Harold Wilson) but Kolinda couldn’t wait a month for a government reformation…why? According to her ‘because the people could wait’. I didn’t see an official poll let alone a referendum on snap elections. After stating she wasn’t getting involved in party power politics she obviously has more to gain by weakening HDZ and Reiner has a historic decision on his hands.

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  4. Karamarko should not have brought down his own government. He could have postponed the vote for a week to let ‘cooler heads’ prevail. Power politics only works when you have power. Karamarko failed to win a majority in the election; he couldn’t even debate that parasite Milanovic during the elections. I think Karamarko needs to go. He played right into the hands of the SDP.

    Like

    • The point is Sunman that the government fell because majority voted against Prime Minister Oreskovic which means that he either did not do his job to the standards acceptable or the opposition wants elections badly and they just might get those. Even if Karamarko did everything “perfectly” according to many, such as leave the government before he did, I truly believe the opposition would have kept on with a crisis, picking a new scandal etc…so perhaps Karamarko’s stay was to show some teeth to opposition??? We will see how it will all go from now on, whether there will be change of heart with some minor parties to avoid elections or not…

      Like

      • The SDP is on a mission to create “hell”, so I agree there would have been more manufactured crisis, but the government fell because Karamarko brought a vote of confidence of the PM to Parliament. He could have delayed it, he could have chosen not to have it all. The Government, Orsekovic and the coalition partners were all new and were faced with SDP created crisis; less than ideal situation to go through the normal process of forming, storming, norming, performing. They needed to time to work things out. Eventually the SDP created crisis would have become so common place as be be like a ‘fly’- just a nuance and nothing serious. Time is what they needed. Everything I’ve read about Karamarko is that is ego is very big and he was difficult to work with. We look like a ‘banana republic’. Here is what General Glasnović had to say…as usual he is right on the mark:
        Jugoslaveni u Hrvatskoj su glavni razlog zašto se mi danas nismo maknuli niti politički, niti ideološki od 1946. Anacionalna bagra koja patološki mrzi samu ideju hrvatske države opet je kriva za veleizdaju. Swastika na Poljudu je njihovo maslo.

        MUP treba objaviti njihova imena i adrese kao prvi korak. Slijedi oduzimanje imovine plus novčane kazne za nanesenu štetu državi.

        Za čin veleizdaje potrebna je zatvorska kazna gdje će biti zatvoreni na odjelu skupa s pedofilima i cinkarošima.

        Ako su ti huligani taoci svojeg identiteta, hrvatska država ne smije biti taoc njihova vandalizma.

        Pozivam sve braniteljske udruge da se udruže ne samo u osudi kriminalnog čina nego i otkrivanju počinitelja.

        Dok sudovi izriču simbolične kazne i MUP upada u hrvatske domove u Metkoviću, navodno za provjeru prebivališta, ORJUNAška manjina nastavlja svoju sabotažu protiv hrvatske države.

        Bog i Hrvati
        Željko Glasnović

        Like

      • Follow Zeljko Glasnovic’s trail quite closely and agree with his stand of firmness to stem out the Yugoslav component and its damaging works. Lustration is ideal but first they need to come up with an effective and adequate criteria as who should be out/lustrated otherwise just about everyone is compromised with past communist ties in family over in Croatia and one cannot go about plucking everyone out etc. I don’t think Karamarko is any more or any less selfish than most politicians in Croatia…HDZ and MOST could have worked better in a coalition government but that wasn’t going to happen regardless of the fact that the two large egos (Karamarko and Petrov) took the option to appoint a middle man as PM (Oreskovic) and if one goes by the Western pattern in such a situation then it’s always the one with less number of seats in the coalition that needs to fold his/her tail in order to permit the other’s politicies to shine, after all these did get relative majority of vote…much to still learn in Croatia…more polticial appetite than what a mere 4 or million can accommodate.

        Like

  5. Ugh – this is looking messier and messier – do you think a new government can be commissioned in just 30 days – and isn’t it ironic that the citizens ‘elected’ are ousted – while the citizens have little say if anything in the replacement…

    Like

    • Well Helena the relative majority party centre right HDZ still thinks it can get a new bunch of minority parties in with them to continue with government…you have a point regarding the ousting here it seems many think that the elected party HDZ should not be given the right of trying to mend things, one hears the centre left clamoring on that most voters want a new election and yet have not provided a shred a evidence for that

      Like

  6. Like

  7. It seems dear Ina we are in that era where our Governments
    Are destined to crumble right now.. Changes are happening ever swifter
    ❤ xxx Hope you have an enlightening week xxx

    Like

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