A former Prime Minister and SDP leader, Zoran Milanovic, on Tuesday presented the State Electoral Commission (DIP) with 78,000 signatures collected by volunteers of 13 centre-left parties in support of his bid for the presidency.
"The trends are obvious. I will fight and I believe that I will win," Milanovic told reporters after submitting the signatures to DIP.
Commenting on incumbent President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, supported by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) for her second term, Milanovic accused the president of belittling "the insignia of the institute of state governance, including the presidential flag, which she respects more than I do."
"I adhere to substance, she sticks to tapestries. However she places (the image of) that tapestry on a too sweet and nutritiously bad (birthday) cake," he said hinting to the cake Grabar-Kitarovic gave Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic for his birthday.
Milanovic underscored that his duty, unlike Grabar-Kitarovic's, is to restore dignity, pride, respect, decency and modesty to that office.
"Her entire (first) term in the presidency is fake and her campaign, unfortunately, is turning into ordinary village trash which Croatia does not deserve," he added.
Asked whether he believes the teachers' month-long strike will go in favour of his campaign, Milanovic responded, "you mean like the tent (case) five years ago to the current bunch in office," alluding to a protest by Croatian war veterans who set up a tent outside the War Veterans' Ministry during the term of the Milanovic cabinet.
"That is where we are different. The tent was a pathogenic phenomenon in society which to this day it is not clear to me what it was aimed at except to bring down the government although I wanted to satisfy some demands," said Milanovic.
(Prime Minister Andrej) Plenkovic and Grabar-Kitarovic were part of that. Depending on what institutions they need, that is how they behave. I can express my solidarity with this strike and I that is what I am doing but nothing more than that. I'm not "a political hyena", he said adding that he did not parasitize someone else's sweat and suffering.
Milanovic believes that the strike could have been avoided and that "amateurism and inexperience" primarily shown by the prime minister (Plenkovic), have led to this totally unnecessary excess, "that will cost him dearly."
Milanovic believes that the teachers' industrial action could have been avoided by agreeing to some union demands that are realistic because when the prime minister boasts that the budget is great and that there is a lot of money, then it is normal that people who have been working for lower wages for a long time come and say that they want a bit for themselves yet the "prime minister goes and humiliates them."