Leader of the anti-establishment Zivi Zid opposition party, Ivan Vilibor Sincic, held a news conference on Friday to distance the party from recent statements made by its two prominent members, which caused a stir in the Croatian public.
Earlier this week, the party’s economy expert Dominik Vuletic appeared on a talk show aired by public broadcaster HRT and said that Zivi Zid advocates “illiberal democracy.” Also this week, one of the party’s three MPs in the 151-seat parliament, Ivan Pernar, posted a scathing diatribe against journalists on his Facebook page, saying that “99 percent of reporters are students of Hitler,” and that “reporters are useful idiots”.
“As for the term ‘illiberal democracy,’ I have to say that it is entirely new to me. We have never discussed that concept. We advocate direct democracy. I distance myself from that position. We believe that direct democracy, with as many referendums as possible, and as little corruption as possible, is the future of democracy,” Sincic told reporters on Friday, but also objecting that he was being asked about Vuletic’s statement in what was meant to be a news conference about legal protection of whistle-blowers.
Sincic opened the news conference by saying that there could be no protection of whistle-blowers without the fight against corruption. Reporters then asked him if he thought the fight against corruption was possible without free journalism, an allusion to his party’s sharp criticism of a journalist who published an investigative report on Zivi Zid’s finances in the Jutarnji List daily.
“I have no problem with 95 percent of reporters, I respect them and love working with them. But I simply cannot tolerate what amounts to systematic lynching. I don’t want to live in a society where someone who manipulates and lies must not be told that they lie, whether they be a reporter, politician or someone else,” Sincic said.
Sincic then went on to distanced himself from MP Ivan Pernar’s Facebook post.
Sincic’s party colleague, MP Branimir Bunjac, added that “the party’s positions are exclusively those which are presented at news conferences, or on the party’s official website.”
“Individual websites do not reflect the party’s positions. We cannot control what each of the 10,000-15,000 party members says in public. We respect freedom of speech,” said Bunjac.