Controversial Replacement for a Controversial Minister?

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Bruna Esih is being mentioned as a potential replacement for Culture Minister Hasanbegović.

Although Prime Minister-Designate Andrej Plenković has not disclosed any names which could become ministers in his cabinet, in the last few days the media published several stories that controversial Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović could be replaced by Bruna Esih, who is herself hardly a non-controversial candidate, reports N1 on October 15, 2016.

However, it is customary that in this phase of forming a government there are rumours circulating which later possibly turn out to be false.

Bruna Esih does have an advantage in the race to become a new minister, since it is almost certain that Hasanbegović will have to leave the government, even though he has tried to put pressure on Plenković to remain in the cabinet. Esih would increase the number of women in the cabinet, which is quite important since it is obvious there will not be many female ministers. Also, she belongs to same hard rightwing circles like Hasanbegović. In addition, Bruna Esih was the envoy of President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović in Bleiburg, which is the main site for commemorations for victims of communist regime during the immediate post-World War Two period.

In any case, we need to wait for next week and the final decision by Andrej Plenković. We should also not ignore the fact that another candidate for Culture Minister is also a woman, Nina Obuljen, who has recently been attacked by rightwing circles for being too moderate. However, despite the attacks of Zlatko Hasanbegović’s “fans”, she is still the most likely candidate to replace him. She has the support of liberal part of cultural sector, which sees her as a welcome change to rightwing Hasanbegović.

Esih is an advocate for lustration, and her scientific works have mainly dealt with communist crimes. While the post of Culture Minister in former governments was usually taken by moderate politicians who approved financial support to both left and right wings of cultural sector, after Hasanbegović was appointed in January of this year, he used his post to start a series of ideological conflicts with liberals, particularly with regards to government funding of certain projects.


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