For most regular “uhljebs”, it is enough to be a member of just one political party.
Lovro Mateš, who was for four years SDP’s member of board of directors of Apis IT public company and recently asked for a severance payment in the amount of 1.29 million kuna, was at the same time a member of HDZ, reports 24sata.hr on March 9, 2017.
This information was officially confirmed by Ena Ercegovac from HDZ’s membership department in Zagreb. She refused to comment on the issue. However, according to sources from the top ranks of HDZ in Zagreb, Mateš has been a member of HDZ since 19 January 2004. “I am not sure whether our member pays his membership dues regularly, since you can be a member even without paying anything”, said a source.
“We do not have access to other parties’ databases, so someone could theoretically be a member of two parties at the same time. That is not allowed, but we exclude people from our membership only when they run as candidates for other parties or when we have compelling evidence that they are members of the other party”, said Ivan Ćelić, secretary of HDZ’s branch in Zagreb.
However, Mateš is also a long-time member of SDP. Starting from 2009, he was employed in the Zagreb Holding public company, which was led at the time by SDP’s Ivo Čović. After SDP came to power at the national level in late 2011, it appointed him to the board of directors of Apis IT, a company owned jointly by the state and the City of Zagreb. He was dismissed just recently, and he was a member of the board of directors with two other SDP members, Hrvoje Somun and Denis Hrestak.
“I have no comment”, said Mateš when asked if he was a member of both parties simultaneously. However, sources close to him say that he claims he is not a member of HDZ and does not know why he is included in its members database. One of his friends says that it is possible that Mateš was made a HDZ member without his knowledge by his father, who is one of HDZ’s founders.
However, SDP has now found out that Mateš was sitting on two chairs at the same time. This is confirmed by Dominik Etlinger, secretary of the SDP branch in Zagreb. “When I heard that he was a HDZ member, I went to check our database and then they told me that he left SDP two weeks ago. Our statutes do not allow double membership. Those who want to be in HDZ are really not desirable as SDP members”, said Etlinger. It seems that Mateš left SDP about the time he was dismissed from the company in which his party employed him.
The law does not prohibit people being a member of more than one party, but those who are usually attract a certain degree of public scorn.
According to the media, Mateš and Denis Hrestak, a member of SDP presidency in Zagreb, requested severance bonuses of more than 1.2 million kuna after they were dismissed. Mateš earlier received one severance payment in the amount of 194,000 kuna, while Hrestak received 240,000 kuna. Although both of them claim that the bonuses are in accordance with the government criteria, that is not true. For companies such as Apis, which generate most of their revenues from the state, bonuses are not provided.