Davor Bernardić Elected SDP President

Total Croatia News

Davor Bernardić has been elected as president of Croatia’s largest opposition party.

In the second round of intra-party elections held on Saturday, SDP members chose Davor Bernardić as the new party president who will lead SDP in the next four years. After 91 percent of polling station reported their results, Bernardić won 64.54 percent of the vote and convincingly defeated former Interior Minister Ranko Ostojić, his rival in the second round.

Incomplete election results were announced Saturday evening at the party’s headquarters. Among those present at the declaration of results was Zoran Milanović, the outgoing SDP president who led the party during the previous nine years. Milanović called on party members to help Bernardić. “The president of the party is Davor Bernardić and everyone in the party should support him”, said Milanović.

Final results will be announced on Monday afternoon. Other members of party leadership will be elected at a party conference next weekend.

After the results were announced, Bernardić said that under his leadership the party would advocate for a society of equal opportunities. In his inaugural speech, he promised that SDP would protect people who live from their labour and skills, would care for retirees and those who have the least, but also for those working in creative industries.

In this regard, he put special emphasis on the openness towards diversity and the freedom of reproductive rights for women. “Starting from tomorrow, we will build a better society, a society of equal opportunities in which everyone can make a contribution”, he said, thanking all those who have supported him over the past years, even when it was difficult. “Thank you, comrades, from the heart. SDP has demonstrated that it can change itself in the key moments for Croatia”, said Bernardić. He thanked Zoran Milanović for everything good he had done.

He received thunderous applause when he said that “no one must ever again divide Croatia on the issue of the Homeland War”. “We will defend freedom in Croatia to the last. Freedom is part of our foundations, we have defended it in the war”, said Bernardić in front of his supporters.

Bernardić promised that SDP would advocate for the preservation of public healthcare system, available to all on equal terms, which “must be protected”. He placed particular emphasis on providing quality education to all who live in Croatia. “The strategic objective of Croatia, as far as I am concerned, is education”, said the new SDP president. He reiterated that he would advocate for increasing the minimum wage and said he was proud that the ruling parties had accepted his proposal and started talking about the increase as well.

“I wish that real change would take place in HDZ”, said Bernardić talking about the main ruling party, stressing that the government was “distributing positions by political criteria, and appointing people to state-owned enterprises without any criteria”. “That is not Croatia which can be successful. Successful Croatia will be led by SDP after the next parliamentary elections, whether early or regular”, he said.

Davor Bernardić was born on 5 January 1980 in Zagreb where he graduated in physics at the Faculty of Science. He was one of the best students in his class. As for his political career, from 2008 to 2010 he served as president of SDP’s Youth Forum. In May 2010, he became president of the SDP branch in Zagreb. In 2012, he became a member of SDP Presidency. He first became an MP in 2008, and was President of the Zagreb City Assembly from 2012.

While at first he was close associate of party president Zoran Milanović, their relationship deteriorated and they became opponents. As president of the party branch in Zagreb, it was expected that he would be the SDP’s candidate for Zagreb Mayor at local elections in 2013, but he was removed by Milanović from that position. SDP’s substitute candidate eventually lost the elections.

After SDP lost the 2015 parliamentary elections, Bernardić supported Milanović’s opponent Zlatko Komadina at intra-party elections, but Milanović won. After SDP against lost early parliamentary elections in September 2016, Milanović announced he would not run again, and Bernadić became the main contender for the party leadership. In the first round of voting, he almost reached the 50 percent threshold needed to be elected, easily beating all the other candidates who were mostly aligned with Milanović.

Although it was expected that Bernardić would run for Zagreb Mayor at local elections in May 2017, now it is believed he will became president of the SDP Parliamentary Group and nominate someone else as SDP’s candidate, particularly since polls show that it is highly unlikely he would manage to enter the second round of voting, let alone defeat long-time Mayor Milan Bandić, former president of SDP branch in Zagreb and Bernadić’s party boss from his early political years.


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