In an interview with the Croatian Radio national broadcaster on Monday, leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Davor Bernardic said that he was absolutely going to go for the prime minister's office, rejecting the possibility of a grand coalition with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).
"I'm absolutely embarking on a fight for the prime minister's office. SDP is preparing for the parliamentary election and we've already formed a campaign team," Bernardic said, rejecting criticism that there is not one woman among the coordinators in the ten electoral constituencies. "Women will, as always, have their deserved place in SDP. I am proud of the statute that we adopted two years ago which ensured full gender parity on election slates - half men and half women. We already applied that model to the European parliamentary election which proved to be more than successful," he said.
He is pleased that according to some public opinion polls, SDP is in first place, but added that the only true opinion poll is an election. Over the past year we have demonstrated how work, unity, abstinence and good quality candidates can achieve an excellent result, he said.
"We recorded two victories in 2019 and now, following the presidential election, we are continuing on our winning streak. It is important to ensure essential changes in the country. Citizens voted for that at the presidential election, with 75% saying they wanted changes. Croatia is at a sort of watershed and I am pleased that citizens have in fact recognised SDP as the party that can reinstate reputation and dignity to Croatian politics," Bernardic underlined.
Beljak has a peculiar style, he obviously made a mistake
Bernardic commented on a contentious tweet by Croatian Peasants' Party (HSS) leader Kreso Beljak regarding political murders by the former Yugoslav secret police UDBA. "He apologised for that. He obviously made a mistake and I would leave it at that. Beljak has a peculiar style. However, it's time that as a society and as normal politicians who take account of how the people will live tomorrow, we turn to the future. Sincerely, I'm sick of historical divisions. Enough of returning to the past which divides us as a people and turns our attention away from real problems like emigration, poverty, the poor situation in the health system," he said, adding that downplaying political murders was not good.
Bernardic said that "SDP would certainly lead the winning bloc at the parliamentary election," reiterating that it had established the Anti-corruption Alliance as a platform to fight corruption, which has attracted several opposition parties, and that they will continue negotiations with other parties that share that mindset and which nurture values like anti-facism and anti-corruption. He believes that the alliance is a good basis for a future coalition, adding that he would talk with others who currently are not part of the alliance.
He said that coalition, however, will not have room for the likes of Mirando Mrsic's Democrats because anyone who left the SDP have picked their path. "We wish them luck. However, we will not discuss any pre-election alliance with them," he said and added there will not be any return of those MPs supporting Zagreb mayor Milan Bandic either.
Any grand coalition with the HDZ, as hinted by Mrsic, is out of the question for Bernardic, who rejected the idea with disgust. Bernardic also does not see a possible coalition with the Croatian People's Party (HNS) because, he underscored, they chose their path in this "grand bartering majority, and good luck to them, but far from us."
Parliamentary election - the sooner the better
Bernardic underscored that Bandic is the HDZ's main coalition partner but that, based on recent statements by Economy Minister Darko Horvat and MEP Tomislav Sokol (HDZ), it's obvious that the relationship has broken down. Bernardic called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to call the parliamentary election as soon as possible.
This government has not done anything during its term and I do not expect absolutely anything in the last year either, he said and underlined that it was necessary to call the parliamentary election as soon as possible so that a government led by the SDP can start working on increased wages and pensions, improving the quality of life, restoring citizens' confidence in institutions and a better Croatia in all segments.
Commenting on a fire in a nursing home in Andrasevec in which six people lost their lives and a triple murder that occurred in Split over the weekend, Bernardic said that the chaos in institutions was obvious and citizens do not trust the system and are taking matters into their own hands which, he added, should be an alarm for all.
"There's a general atmosphere of mistrust in institutions, the police and the security system of the country, and absolute chaos and disorder is prevailing in the country. The first task for a decent and responsible government is to once again establish order in Croatia and, in addition to restoring citizens' confidence in institutions, that will be one of the main things that we will do when we come into power" SDP's leader said.