A Week in Croatian Politics – Sundays, Hooligans and AI

Lauren Simmonds

croatian politics
Zoran Milanovic and Andrej Plenkovic in Sinj - Ivo Cagalj/PIXSELL

August the 11th, 2023 – This week in Croatian politics, the Sunday work ban has been met with rebellion across the country, a tragedy in Greece has seen Croatian hooligans condemned, and AI has given us yet another, erm… gift, of sorts.

HDZ’s controversial Sunday work ban has been given the finger by many

Split Mayor Ivica Puljak recently declared certain Sundays as fair days, but he’s far from the only one deciding to disregard HDZ’s deeply unpopular Sunday working ban. As Branimir Perkovic at Index writes, other areas of the country have decided to forego the rather bizarre rule in an apparently secular country.

Although the ban on working on Sundays for the trade sector has been being attempted to be pushed through for years now, and the Constitutional Court overturned two attempts to introduce it (one in 2004 and then again in 2009), it seems that it is a very important topic for the current government (HDZ), and they finally succeeded in introducing it this year.

In mid-July this year, the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association (Udruga Glas poduzetnika) submitted a proposal to evaluate the approval of the new Trade Act, which introduced the ban on working on Sundays. It’s now expected that the decision of the Constitutional Court will be made within one year. The previous ban from back in 2008 lasted less than one year, more precisely until the Constitutional Court overturned it with the argument that it had put those in the trade sector in an unequal and somewhat precarious position.

Ways around the Sunday working ban have been found – and used en masse

Instead of waiting for the decision of the Constitutional Court to be made, the local authorities decided on a wise move. Many holidays and Sundays have now been declared as fair days so as to partially circumvent these Sunday work bans so pushed for by certain people in Croatian politics. This has especially been the case in cities and municipalities where a large part of the economy depends on tourism. A kind of rebellion of the local authorities against the state has been launched, and even those local communities where the HDZ is in power (of which there are many) have since joined in.

A Revolt of sorts throughout Croatia

The new Law on Trade has been in force since May the 1st, 2023, and according to it, shops can only be open for sixteen Sundays each year. The municipality of Jelsa on the island of Hvar made a decision on August the 1st to declare fair days in its area on August the 5th on the Day of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving and Croatian Veterans’ Day, and on August the 15th, when the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated.

On August the 2nd, Supetar on the nearby island of Brač made a decision to declare fair days on its territory, the day after that, neighbouring Sutivan did the same, and on August the 4th, the municipality of Bol on the same island made the same move. More and more towns, cities and regional self-government units are doing the same things as time goes on.

The horrendous stabbing of a Greek AEK fan in athens has resulted in discomfort for Croats in Greece

Sotiris Dimitropoulos/PIXSELL

Plenkovic recently stated that many Croatian nationals currently in Greece have claimed to feel very uncomfortable in that nearby country following the tragic death of a Greek AEK fan. The Greek fan was allegedly stabbed and later died from his injuries by a Dinamo Zagreb fan before the scheduled AEK-Dinamo match in the Greek capital. You can read more here.

The Prime Minister, who is currently spending time on the island of Hvar, commented on the awful situation in Greece. After the death of a Greek fan in Athens, numerous Croatian Dinamo fans were arrested, and there are also among the thirteen suspects for the stabbing which took that fan’s life. Plenkovic said the following:

“We’re going to be monitoring this situation. The government has already condemned this act of violence, every normal person readily condemns hooliganism. We’ve already been in contact with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. He and the Greek institutions received information in time about the possibility of the arrival of fans who could potentially cause a problem. They’d already had dismissals in the police because of this, and six or seven people working for the Greek police force have now been sacked. Every day I’m on the phone with Croatian Ambassador Sunko in Athens, who visited Croatian citizens currently in Greece today. Everyone is fine in terms of the treatment being received by the Greek police. We’ll have to see what the courts say.”

Heightened tension between the Croats and the Greeks

“I’m in contact with Interior Minister Davor Božinović, the police are fully engaged. This kind of organised hooliganism, despite the ban, to dare to go to Athens in order to avoid incidents… it’s all just utterly unacceptable. As a society, we must react, we need to say no to savagery, no to violence, and yes to sport. Sport brings together and build the characters of young people. There are many Croatian tourists currently in Greece who are feeling extremely uncomfortable because of this incident.”

AI shows us Croatian politicians on holiday

You might recall in a previous article on Croatian politics that AI showed us what various politicians (including Andrej Plenkovic, former finance minister Zdravko Maric, former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and more) would look like if they were homeless. This time, we’ve been treated to a view of them on holiday – according to AI.

Index Magazin has more as Filip Filkovic Philatz gives us a view of some of our “much loved” characters from the world of Croatian politics on holiday, as created by the Midjourney platform.

Here’s President Zoran Milanovic chilling on the beach, according to Midjourney:

All rights reserved: Filip Filkovic Philatz

Click here for a look at not only Milanovic, but health minister Vili Beros and more through AI’s eyes. If characters from Croatian politics imagined in all kinds of situations is your thing, give Croatian creator Filip Filkovic Philatz a follow on Instagram.


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