Popular singer Miroslav Skoro, one of the three candidates who, according to polls, have the greatest chances of winning the presidential election, told the Hina news agency on Saturday that he is not trying to gather rightwing parties and groups, but citizens who crave for change.
Responding to the interviewer’s remark that he likes to portray himself as a man of the people and against the establishment, Skoro said he was not “cultivated in party incubators”.
“I am a self-made man of the people and arguably I am part of the elite when it comes to contemporary pop music. On the other hand, I took up the duties I performed (as a consul to Hungary and a lawmaker) because politicians asked me for help, not the other way around,” he said.
“When I saw that the system did not allow for changes, I returned my mandate. I did not want to be a parasite living off taxpayer’s money. I consider such practice shameful and that’s why I want to change the election system,” said Skoro, a former member of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).
Asked if he was pushing for the restoration of a semi-presidential system, Skoro said: “Your statement that my proposal for constitutional changes would put too much power in the hands of one person is simply not true.”
“Quite the contrary, in that way the President of the Republic would become a counter-balance to the head of the biggest party who largely decides on the composition of parliament and picks Constitutional Court judges, the Chief State Prosecutor, the director of the HRT (Croatian broadcasting corporation) and employees in motorway toll booths behind closed doors. In this country, the division of powers exists only on paper, and the President, as a corrective, can guarantee the independence and stability of democratic institutions,” he said.
Asked how he planned to achieve unity in society if he surrounded himself with radical right-wing groups, Skoro said he was never “a man of divisions” and does not intend to become one. “If the Bridge party and the Greens are a radical right, then your definition and my definition of radicalism and the right are not from the same book.”
Asked if he believes in civil society, given that his statements are dominated by national, patriotic and religious narratives, Skoro said: “Your question suggests that citizens must not be patriots and believers who love their nation, if I understood correctly. I don’t see how that is mutually exclusive. We are all Croatian citizens and none of us must be discriminated against or privileged.”
“Patriotism is a great driving force that leads us to a common goal which we as a nation must have, and let everyone express it in their own way. Religious freedoms are an important feature of a civic society and we must safeguard them,” he said.
Skoro said that the incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said virtually nothing about the results of her work in her announcement that she is running for reelection because there are none.
“On the one hand, she says she could not have done more with the existing powers, while on the other she is opposed to expanding the President’s constitutional powers. How will she do anything in the future if, based on the existing model, she has done nothing so far? She seeks a new term so she can continue her inaction, while I want substantial changes. And I am certain that the people will opt for changes because they see that with the existing elites we are failing.”
Citing opinion polls, Skoro said that 64 percent of citizens agree with his assessment that the President of the Republic should have greater powers.
“This confirms that the current President, as well as the rest of the political elite, are completely separated from the people, their desires and interests.”
Asked what his advantages are compared to Grabar-Kitarovic and the Social Democratic Party’s Zoran Milanovic, Skoro said: “I am not doing this because I have to, but because I want to.”
“Unlike them, I have a lot of things to do outside politics. I have not entered politics for my own sake but to make my contribution in creating a better future for Croatia,” he said.
Skoro said that according to the latest census 93 percent of citizens identified as believers, and among them over 90 percent were Catholics.
“So, of course I count on the support of believers because without it I would not stand a chance. I was raised by Jesuits, I sang about Christian values in my songs long ago and I advocate them in public. I am sure the faithful have already recognised that,” he said.
Asked about his position on the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and whether he thought that the Ustasha salute “For the homeland ready” should be banned, Skoro said: “For me the NDH is history, and as for ‘For the homeland ready!’, this salute is displayed on the official insignia of the Croatian Defence Forces (HOS) as a legal military formation from the Homeland War which fought for democratic Croatia.”
HBe said he feels the purpose of incriminating the WWII salute was to “tarnish the HOS and hence the entire Croatian army and Homeland War. Something like that must not be allowed.”