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)

Croatia: HDZ Purges – Another One Bites The Dust?

Jadranka Kosor    Photo: Ranko Suvar/ Cropix

Jadranka Kosor Photo: Ranko Suvar/ Cropix

Whether one likes or dislikes Jadranka Kosor as a politician, as a former president of Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ and former Prime Minister of Croatia is beside the arguably moot point of the party’s recent and current self-cleansing frenzy. Yesterday (Thursday 18 April 2013) the final nail had been driven into Kosor’s HDZ membership coffin – she was expelled from HDZ (leading parliamentary party in opposition).

Jadranka Kosor, took over the premiership of Croatia in turmoil after her predecessor Ivo Sanader was forced to resign in 2009 in a whirl of corruption scandals, and then wrapped up her Croatia’s accession talks with the EU.

The December 2011 general elections saw Kosor and HDZ lose government and gain increasing public disdain.

HDZ took the necessary steps any political party would take in the aftermath of significant electoral loss: it voted Kosor out as its leader and voted the current incumbent Tomislav Karamarko in. It also claimed to being committed on embarking upon a vigorous path of “cleansing itself” from those not worthy of party membership, or those that have, according to them, compromised themselves in some “publicly” obvious way. It wowed vehemently to return to its political roots – Franjo Tudjman’s ideals, and correct the wrongs done unto the party (and Croatia) through de-Tudjmanisation of the party and the society in the past decade or so.

Kosor considers that the HDZ’s court of honour decision to strike her from the party’s membership was in contradiction to the party’s statute and a precedent because of the “arguments and the way that job was done,” adding that she had informed the European People’s Party of which the HDZ is a member, of the entire matter – reports daily.tportal.

She added that several lawyers had advised her that she had grounds to file a constitutional complaint against the party and that she was contemplating this possibility.

She once again rejected the explanation by the party court of honour which claimed that she had caused damage to the party’s reputation, claiming that she had not said anything against the party or its leadership and all she had done was to reject the incumbent party president Tomislav Karamarko’s statements that the party’s former leadership had de-Croatianised and de-Tudjmanised the party.
She concluded that she considered that she had achieved a lot as a politician, minister and prime minister.

Kosor, people said, ran the risk of being expelled from HDZ when she recently gave an interview to Globus weekly in which she criticized the party’s president, Tomislav Karamarko.

Karamarko, himself, was party (HDZ) member from the beginning of the nineties, but his party status was frozen for years because of reported quarrels with the then party president, dr Franjo Tudjman.

Karamarko led Stjepan Mesic’s presidential election campaign in 2000 – the times in Croatia’s political life when there was no greater, hateful enemy of Franjo Tudjman and HDZ.  Mesic started his fierce, abominable campaign against Franjo Tudjman during the nineties and continued with it ever since then. His palpably insidious push to criminalise and politically prostitute the Croatian Homeland War spreading hearsay a fact (particularly the one about Tudjman’s meeting at Karadjordjevo in 1991, which led much of the world to believe that Tudjman and Slobodan Milosevic had made an agreement to enter into war and divide Bosnia and Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia), his vilification of Tudjman, his spin of hatred and his failure to uphold the righteousness of Croatia’s defence from Serbian aggression have been labelled by many as acts of treason.

When Tudjman died in 1999, Ivo Sanader became the leader of HDZ and appointed Karamarko as interior minister in 2008.

Kosor invited Karamarko to rejoin HDZ party in 2011.

So, now, Karamarko accused Kosor of de-Tudjmanising and de-Croatianising HDZ and she decided to defend herself in public. She most likely went public because the party’s corridors just did not want to know. HDZ in its cleansing frenzy and in attempting to create a whole new image (New Time – New Forces) had to, I suppose, blame someone for the so-called de-Tudjmanisation and de-Croatianisation and there’s no better opportunity for finger pointing than when someone goes public on “party” matters!?

If Karamarko was serious about cleansing HDZ from de-Tudjmanisers and de-Croatianisers within the party why would he not target the oldest members who were there, in important party roles all along, long before Kosor, while the de-Tudjmanisation was happening at full steam!? Vladimir Seks, whose political Use-by date had expired long ago, springs to mind. But so do others.

Perhaps it’s because it’s not about cleansing the party of de-Tudjmanisers as well as of corrupt practices but about delusions of grandeur that HDZ seems to suffer from! After all, Karamarko did say in December 2012:

At this moment HDZ is the mechanism which must secure the existence and the pride of Croats and Croatia and a more qualitative life, and if HDZ disappears so will the authentic Croatia.”

Now, that is truly a whopper of a delusion of grandeur that HDZ has. Totally offensive to the majority of Croatian citizens, who are not members of HDZ and who have defended and participated in the creation of “authentic Croatia”.

When Karamarko was minister of internal affairs in Kosor’s government cabinet he gained much reverence and public admiration when he went head-on against Communist crimes, prosecuting or attempting to prosecute for WWII and post-WWII Communist crimes. I myself was impressed, because bringing justice for victims of communist crimes was and still is a paramount issue when it comes to reconciling the past for the full benefit of the nation’s future.

This issue seems to have been thrown into backwaters when Kosor ceased to be at the head of HDZ.

Most disappointing!

If the recent EU Parliament elections are to go by, HDZ did not do well despite winning seats. In fact the greatest victory glory HDZ celebrated belongs to Ruza Tomasic, leader of Croatian Party of Right dr Ante Starcevic who ran in coalition with HDZ. Translated into the context of HDZ’s “New Time – New Forces” slogan, which suggests that HDZ has cleansed itself of negative elements (people), put corruption behind it, these election results point to the view that voters are still sitting on the fence on the matter of “HDZ purity”, or are well behind it.

If I were in Kosor’s place I’d pursue all legal avenues available, and try and restore myself into HDZ’s membership. And then, upon success in the legal action, I would tear up the HDZ membership card and shove the pieces where “the sun don’t shine”!  It’s a matter of principle, of self-respect, of loving Croatia!

This is possible (of course, depending on laws of the country). I did it myself in mid-nineties when I was expelled from HDZ in Australia after exposing corruption and improper dealings. I took the case to NSW Supreme Court, was reinstated into HDZ membership and then ended my membership in the party on my terms, on just terms. That is how democracy works – if you cannot achieve justice through dealing with people, you turn to the courts of law. You hold your head high, you continue loving Croatia and you continue exposing improper and unjust matters that cross your paths in life. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Related Post

Calls to annul the Croatian EU accession referendum question its legitimacy

Vladimir Seks

An enormous legal storm seems to be brewing in Croatia.

Almost the minute the referendum results were announced (late in the night of  22 January) in favour of EU accession the former deputy parliamentary speaker of Croatia, Vladimir Seks (HDZ), boasted: “…without the changes in the Constitution, agreed to between HDZ and SDP, the referendum would not have passed.”

It is thus official: the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), in power to December 2011, and Social Democratic Party (SDP), in power since December 2011 had agreed to adjust the Referendum law in 2010 to secure a future “sure win” for the case of European Union accession referendum.

The last couple of days saw some interesting but disturbing developments in Croatia regarding the EU referendum.

The pro-EU camp is attempting to argue the reduction of the actual number of registered voters in order to bump up the overall turnout numbers above 50%. (The turnout vis-a-vis total number of registered voters was a poor 44% according to Croatian Electoral Office).

Certainly, the idea that the Croatian electoral roll is in shambles is by no means new. In the aftermath of the past couple of general elections there’d been protests that there seemed to be more registered voters on the roll than citizens eligible to vote. Estimates of up to half million of “suspect” registered voters had been bandied around. But, no one it seems did anything about it.

Serious commotion regarding the electoral roll commenced when, on 25th January, the  Dubrovnik online portal published an article claiming that the referendum was neither constitutional nor legal. This claim was backed by legal assessment of the laws governing referendums. I.e. it claims that while decisions are made on basis of majority votes among the votes actually cast, this must be under the condition that the majority of registered voters actually cast their votes.

It is claimed that the Parliament had omitted to adjust the new 2010 Referendum Act and, hence, the pre-existing condition of majority of registered voters to cast votes remains.

The problem seems to be that in accordance with Constitutional law for the enforcement of the Croatian constitution, articles of the changed Referendum constitution cannot be applied prior to their enactment that is, prior to the adjustment of the referendum law.

Media reports lead us to believe that an application to the Croatian Constitutional court for assessment of the validity of the referendum results is already on its way.

If such sloppy work in processing new laws by the Croatian parliament is proven by the Constitutional court it’s high time to bring in a new, mighty broom and sweep the “old geezers”, the stale political elite, out. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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