HSS Likely to Join Amsterdam Coalition for European Elections

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ZAGREB, November 25, 2018 – The Croatian Peasant’s Party (HSS) will be ready to sign a coalition agreement with the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), the Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS) and the Primorje-Gorski Kotar Alliance (PGS), the so-called Amsterdam Coalition, for next year’s European Parliament elections once its leadership bodies make the final decision, HSS leader Krešo Beljak said in an interview with Hina.

“The atmosphere is very good and there is no opposition, as was the case two years ago when we were negotiating a deal with the Social Democratic Party. That’s why I can say with certainty that the agreement will be concluded,” Beljak said.

Asked if he saw himself on the election slate, he said: “Absolutely! We have agreed to go with the strongest candidates, but this too will be decided by the party’s bodies. If the party and the coalition think that my name can help the slate, I will certainly be on it.”

The Pametno party has withdrawn from the coalition because of the IDS’s role in the case of the troubled Uljanik shipyard. Asked if he found anything disputable in that, Beljak said: “There are no parties that have operated for 28 or 114 years without making mistakes in their work. That’s politics. I wish all the best to non-parliamentary parties that are eager to enter parliament. Only after they run in elections on their own will they see what sort of business politics is and how much effort is needed to win voters’ trust.”

Pressed further to say whether he was forgiving the IDS for its role in the Uljanik case, Beljak said: “The powers of local and regional government are too small that they could commit such crimes as are being ascribed to the IDS by some. The ruling HDZ is trying to shift the blame onto the local government as a political tactic. Financial and management powers over such companies have almost nothing to do with local or regional government.”

On the economic front, the HSS has said it has the best programme. Asked when it would be made public, Beljak said that guidelines had been adopted and details of the programme were being worked on, and as soon as they were finalised the programme would be presented to the public. He said that the HSS had changed its political and ideological course becoming a modern, progressive, green party.

Human rights ombudsman Lora Vidović recently strongly criticised attempts at downplaying Ustasha ideology. Austria has decided that anyone using “For the homeland ready”, the salute used by the Nazi-allied Ustasha regime that ruled Croatia in World War II, will be fined 10,000 euros. Asked about his position on the matter, Beljak said: “Punishing the promotion of fascism is a matter of civilisation and the ombudsman’s report is a justified slap on the face of the whole leadership who ignores and tolerates hatred and behaviour that is punishable across Europe. The position of the HSS, the first antifascist party in Croatia’s history, is clear. Back in 1922, long before WWII, HSS founder Stjepan Radić declared himself as antifascist. That’s why I would like to hear what the president and the prime minister think of this report. Let them declare themselves. The fact that a state institution, in this case the human rights ombudsman, has taken such a clear stand on this matter gives us some hope.”

Following serious criticisms levelled by the HDZ at the parliamentary Conflict of Interest Commission and its head Nataša Novaković that they put themselves in the service of politics, even though Novaković had been seen as the HDZ’s candidate to this post, Beljak was asked what he thought of the Commission.

“The problem of the present political system is that institutions which should be independent, such as the Conflict of Interest Commission, or the Chief State Prosecutor, are elected by parliament. We cannot speak of someone’s independence if they have been chosen by politics. The Conflict of Interest Commission is subjected to those who elected it. I’m not a jurist, I won’t criticise them, but the fact remains that they were elected by politics as a compromise. This institution should not exist because it’s ridiculous. … A positive selection can be ensured only by changing the electoral law. Elections must be absolutely democratic. The present way of electing the President of the Republic should be abolished and the Prime Minister should be elected that way, and then he can behave as he pleases because he has the legitimacy, and now he doesn’t. The President of the Republic should be elected in parliament by a two-thirds majority, and since their powers are ceremonial anyway, it should be considered whether Croatia needs a President at all, because all the President does is spends money on campaigning to win another five years in office so they don’t have to do anything.”

For more on the Amsterdam coalition, click here.


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