Davor Bernardić has collected by far the greatest number of signatures of support.
President of the SDP branch in Zagreb Davor Bernardić became a favourite in the race for SDP president. He officially submitted his bid with as many as 10,500 signatures of support from party members, twice as many as his major rivals Orsat Miljenić (5,100) and Ranko Ostojić (4,500), reports tportal.hr on November 11, 2016.
Interestingly, at the last intra-party elections, Zoran Milanović collected almost the same number of signatures, while his only rival Zlatko Komadina collected 5,000 signatures. At the time, Komadina said that the number of signatures collected was less important than the number of votes. However, when the votes were counted several weeks later, Milanović won convincingly.
Bernardić’s opponents now also claim that the number of signatures is not important, but in reality they are very concerned with the large number of signatures collected by him, because it is clear that he has gained a significant psychological advantage. Some even believe that Bernardić could not have collected so many signatures in legal way. Ivan Klarin said that he expected party election commission to check the authenticity of the signatures.
Ranko Ostojić apparently also does not believe that Bernardić could have collected so many signatures, since he ironically said that he had collected “a little less than 20,000 signatures”, although it was clear that the real number was substantially lower.
According to sources from the party itself, the general impression is that Bernardić will almost certainly receive the most votes in the first round of voting (19 November), and that the fight for the second place will be fought between former Justice Minister Orsat Miljenić and former Interior Minister Ranko Ostojić. It is evident that Ostojić’s campaign has somewhat recovered from its poor start, while Miljenić’s campaign has been losing momentum. At the beginning, he received the support of a lot of prominent party members. However, after a few weeks, these same people seem to have doubts whether Miljenić has a realistic chance to win. Therefore, it is possible that some of them will eventually support Bernardić. Still, it is important to note that most members of SDP leadership believe that Miljenić is the best long-term solution for the party. They are convinced that SDP led by Bernardić cannot win the next parliamentary elections against HDZ led by Andrej Plenković.
Although Member of European Parliament Tonino Picula almost destroyed his campaign at the very beginning when he said he would remain in Brussels even if he won, it seems that he is slowly recovering. Some even believe that he could achieve a good result, although it probably will not be enough for him to enter the second round of voting, where only the two best-placed candidates will take part.
Other candidates are not believed to have any realistic chance of reaching the second round of voting.