Croatia Elections: Who are Božo Petrov and Drago Prgomet, Leaders of Most?

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Psychiatrist and a Head and Neck Surgeon Deciding on Croatia’s new Government

A month ago, I don’t believe anyone would have predicted that the fate of the new Croatian government would rest in the hands of MOST, a party that was the biggest surprise of 2015 Croatian parliamentary elections. Though most people are quick to judge MOST as an ad hoc party that was created in the last 12 months as the third option to two political giants SDP and HDZ, the truth is somewhat different and there is nothing accidental or random about it.

Project MOST started way back in 2011, it was carefully managed and grew stronger in silence until it was ready for big things. First locally, then nationally. As we saw on Sunday, November 8, 2015, their planning and careful selection of people worked. With 19 seats won, this party will now decide on who will run Croatia for the next 4 years, so it’s time to meet the two most prominent men in the party – Božo Petrov and Drago Prgomet.

Božo Petrov rose to political fame after the local elections in 2013. Just like on Sunday, back in 2013 he did the unimaginable, he overthrew the ironclad ruler of Metković Stipe Gabrić Jambo, whose controversial reign over this small city in the Croatian south lasted for 16 years. Petrov, a 36 year old psychiatrist born in Metković on October 19, 1979, got to work as soon as he took over the mayor’s office in Metković. He cut down his own salary and of his associates to a legal minimum, cut down the city’s debt by half, implemented a transparent system of public spending and was soon voted the best mayor in the region.

Right from the start of his political involvement, he said he has no plans of staying in politics for the rest of his life “My aim is to run my designated route, 4-8 years and then go back to my own profession”. In terms of trying to define him politically, Petrov says he’s somewhere in between a capitalist and a socialist “I run the city just like I would run a company, but I have to make sure all the workers are protected” he says. He was raised in a catholic blue collar family, but his views on certain subjects, such as LGTB rights are far from conservative. He describes himself as a man who loves his country, is socially inclined, and despises extremism of any sorts as well as rigid point of views.

Petrov doesn’t like to be called the Croatian version of Tsipras because Croatia is not Greece, and he wants the people to vote for what he stands for and not out of pure revolt caused by the current situation. When asked whether he is “left” or right” Petrov answered:

 “I would really like for someone to finally define what is left and what is right in Croatia. When it comes to economic issues, which should create the difference between social democrats and the right wing options, the two largest parties have achieved some sort of consensus and there are no major differences between them. They may differ in some world views, but when it comes to a market economy, they’re exactly the same”.

After Petrov, who is still somewhat a political novice and was never a member of any other political party, we come to Drago Prgomet. Not only is he a seasoned politician, he is also the former vice president of HDZ.  Born in 1965 in the Municipality of Derventa, Bosnia and Herzegovina, graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in Banja Luka and then started his residency in Slavonski Brod in Croatia and started his post grad programme at the Faculty of Medicine in Zagreb, asking the institution to also let him to graduate in the same faculty since the diploma from the Zagreb University had more weight than the one he already had from Banja Luka. The reason I am including this in the article is the constant barrage of attacks from his political opponents asking how is it possible to get an undergrad and post graduation diploma at the same time. Prgomet publicly presented all his credentials and diplomas, Faculty of Medicine backed up his story so as far as I am concerned, there’s no reason to keep commenting about it. He was the Head of the Head and Neck Clinic at the Rebro hospital in Zagreb until February 2014, he still teaches at the Faculty of Medicine in both Zagreb and Osijek.

He was a long time member of HDZ and was a member of the Croatian parliament from 2003 until 2006. Even though he was the vice president and virtually the second in command in the party, he left in February 2015 after several very public disputes with Tomislav Karamarko.  He was against the decision to throw former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor out of HDZ, and his disagreement with the way the party was run culminated with his Facebook calls for the ending of war veterans’ protest in Zagreb and his criticism of HDZ’s ultra right wing rhetoric. Knowing all opponents of Karamarko get expressly thrown out of the party, Prgomet decided to resign. There were calls from other parties to join them, including Milan Kujundžić, another HDZ dissident, but Prgomet ended up opting for MOST when he officially joined in September 2015.    

Two months later, the fate of the new Croatian government lies in the hands of these two doctors. Both Petrov and Prgoment have stated that they are not running away from responsibility and they are willing to actively participate in the government, but under their own terms without formally joining either of the two big coalitions. There’s still no indication which way they will lean in the end, but MOST promises that their decision will be made in the next 15 days. 


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