“All options are being considered,” say HDZ sources. “We cannot allow Catholic bishops to dictate policy.”
No one from HDZ at this time can say with certainty that early parliamentary elections will be held in the autumn. However, they do admit that “all options are being considered” and that “there is currently no party in the country which can form a governing majority alone, which means we are forced into coalitions which are sometimes more and sometimes less stable, so the early elections we have already witnessed in similar political circumstances are something that cannot be ruled out,” reports Jutarnji List on March 21, 2018.
HDZ sources add that possible early parliamentary elections depend on a whole range of circumstances, and that relations within the HDZ are just one of them, although not the most important one.
The threat of calling early elections, which Prime Minister and HDZ president Andrej Plenković recently issued to his party leadership when he opened the debate on the Istanbul Convention ratification, adding that he is the one who can bring down the government and would then be in a position to decide party candidates for the new elections, is seen by most HDZ officials as a form of pressure on those parts of a party which oppose the ratification of the Convention.
“At this point, the most important thing is to ratify the Istanbul Convention. The opposition against the ratification is focused on HDZ and the attempts to direct party policy from outside it, outside of party bodies,” said a HDZ presidency member, pointing out that there have been several Christian-democratic political parties in Croatia, many Catholic associations and Catholic entrepreneurial initiatives, which have all failed sooner or later.
He continued that the “U Ime Obitelji” conservative NGO wants to have political influence, but does not want to be a political party. All these groups, led by the Catholic Church, want to realise their policies through HDZ.
“They would let HDZ deal with all the problems, with the Agrokor’s issue, solve the crisis in the Uljanik shipyard, implement retirement system reform and deal with other problems, and they would take for themselves the right to impose their ideological positions on the party,” said the source, adding that they want the political party, which won the confidence of voters at elections and which has its own internal structure and decision-making bodies, to suspend all party bodies and let the Catholic Bishops Conference decide on policies which HDZ would then have to represent and implement.
“HDZ is too important for the state, and we cannot bring down the entire political system and allow the party to be turned into someone’s political arm,” concluded the senior party official, noting that not everybody understands this issue within the party, including some members of its leadership.
Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Ivanka Toma).