Former HNS President Vrdoljak Returning to Party, And Possibly Government

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He was vital in HNS’s decision to enter into a coalition with HDZ.

Former HNS president Ivan Vrdoljak is returning to politics. He is the only candidate for the new HNS president, a position which has been vacant since he resigned from the post in June, reports on October 20, 2017.

The party’s acting president is Predrag Štromar, who is currently Deputy Prime Minister and Construction Minister. It is not yet known whether Vrdoljak might replace him in the government as well.

For years, HNS was SDP’s coalition partner, participating in two SDP-led governments. However, in June this year, the party decided to enter into a coalition with centre-right HDZ. After the June’s decision, party president Ivan Vrdoljak resigned, while a number of prominent party officials and members of Parliament left the party and founded a new political organisation.

Milorad Batinić, a member of the HNS Presidency and the chairman of the HNS Parliamentary Caucus, said on Thursday that the presidency had decided at the session that its candidate for party president would be Ivan Vrdoljak. Štromar will be a candidate for deputy party president, while Marija Puh and Ivan Gulam will be vice presidents. “This is what we have discussed in the past month and a half – with the Presidency and with the broader membership. Who will ultimately be the party president will be decided later,” said Batinić.

Asked what Vrdoljak could offer to HNS, Batinić said: “First of all, we should not forget that Ivan Vrdoljak was the party president earlier, and he is now a candidate. We already have a clear political programme. But, circumstances have changed both within HNS and on the political stage, so now the HNS manifesto will have to be redefined. HNS is part of the government.” Asked if Vrdoljak would replace acting party president Štromar as Deputy Prime Minister, Batinić said they did not discuss it.

After MOST left a coalition with HDZ earlier this year, HDZ president and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković offered HNS to enter the government. Vrdoljak as party president supported the idea and took part in secret negotiations with HDZ. Still, the party presidency initially rejected his proposal, and he resigned. Just one day later, the party’s Main Committee changed the position and entered the government after all. This caused a split in the party, which has historically been left-of-centre and an opponent to HDZ. Four of the nine MPs decided to form their own political party.

HNS elected Štromar to be acting party president and nominated him as one HNS’s two ministers (the other is Education Minister Blaženka Divjak). Despite the party’s eventual decision to support his proposal, Vrdoljak said he would not return to politics and would instead devote himself to a business career.

Still, rumours about his possible return to politics have been circulating for months and have now been confirmed.


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