Presidency of the the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) voted to support ratifying the Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women, Prime Minister and leader of HDZ, Andrej Plenković, said on Tuesday (March 20).
“There were 19 votes in favour, and six votes against it. The proposal for the government to continue with the process of ratifying the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing violence against women was passed,” Plenković told reporters after the meeting.
The presidency, which is the HDZ party’s top national committee, consists of 30 members, five of which did not attend the meeting. Plenković said the proposed ratification of the Istanbul Convention would be discussed in a government session on Thursday. It is expected to be passed, after which it would go to the parliament where MPs will vote on the proposal.
Several prominent party members had publicly disagreed with the ratification in recent weeks, as well as some leaders of the Catholic Church, mainly over concerns that the convention introduces “gender ideology”, which they do not recognise, and the cost of funding its provisions.
Plenković was asked if the six members who were opposed to the proposal was a concern for him.
“No, I’m not concerned by that. What is important top me is that 19 members of HDZ presidency are in favour of it, that we have raised the standards of democratic discussion within the party, that everyone had the opportunity to speak their mind and present arguments. We clarified how each of us views the text of the convention, what they see or don’t see in it, what it actually says and what some think it might say. The majority clearly supported the proposal put to vote,” Plenković told reporters. He said he expected majority of HDZ MPs to vote in favour of ratifying the convention in parliament.
HDZ and the Catholic Church ‘on the same side’
Members of party presidency who voted against the convention were deputy chairman Milijan Brkić, international secretary Miro Kovač, political secretary Davor Ivo Stier, vice-chairwoman and MEP Ivana Maletić and presidency members Darko Milinović and Anton Kliman.
Asked if this meant that the centre-right HDZ party views the convention diametrically opposite from the Catholic Church, Plenković said no, HINA news agency reported.
“We are absolutely on the same side. This is a convention which in its essence is about protecting women from violence and domestic violence. The thing that the public discussion focused on is less relevant. It is my deeply held belief that ratifying this convention would in no way introduce obligations into the Croatian legislation which would be opposed to the values of HDZ,” said Plenković, and added that the move to ratify the convention was part of HDZ programme.
Plenković was referring to HDZ policy programme released prior to the November 2016 parliamentary election, in which the party promised to “completely fulfil obligations required by the Istanbul Convention”. Plenković added that this convention would help solve an “exceptionally negative” problem in the society, as only a few years ago some 47 percent of all murders in the country involved women as victims, killed mostly by their partners.
He also announced an accompanying “interpretation statement” to be included as part of the law on ratifying the convention, the text of which would be published on Thursday. The statement is expected to clarify provisions of the convention in order to dissuade its conservative critics.