ZAGREB, January 26, 2020 – Members of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party Miro Kovač, Ivan Penava and Davor Ivo Stier confirmed on Saturday that they would run in the forthcoming party elections as a team, with Kovač and Penava contesting for the party’s president and deputy president.
Kovač is an HDZ parliamentarian and served as the foreign minister in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković. Penava is the mayor of the city of Vukovar. Stier, a member of parliament and who served as the foreign minister after Kovač in the Andrej Plenković cabinet, will stand for a vice president of the party.
Addressing a news conference today in Zagreb, Kovač said that the HDZ needed now “a turnaround”, and that this was the message of the electorate in the last two elections: the election for the European Parliament and the recent presidential election in which this ruling party “achieved unsatisfactory results”.
He says the poor performance in the elections has been the outcome of the HDZ having “derailed from the tracks” which the HDZ founder Franjo Tuđman had laid down for the party.
Kovač said that nobody in the party had assumed the responsibility for the fact that the HDZ won only four seats in the EP. That situation then led to the HDZ’s lack of success in the presidential elections, he added.
He also ruled out any grand coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
“We must not clash with our voters, members and sympathisers, or with people who have traditionally patriotic attitudes,” he added.
Penava said that since the death of the first president and the HDZ founder Tuđman, the party had not had any efficient response to issues stemming from the Homeland War.
In this context he criticised coalitions with the HNS (Croatian People’s Party) or the SDSS party representing the interests of ethnic Serbs rather than making partnership with “the parties that are naturally closer to us”.
“We are the option for change,” said Stier, who resigned as foreign minister in mid-2017 being unhappy that Prime Minister Plenković negotiated with the HNS to form a new parliamentary majority and government after the HDZ’s cooperation with the MOST party failed. Stier had then expressed regret that the HDZ and MOST parted ways and had called then for new elections.
Stier said at today’s news conference that the results of the two last elections were messages for the HDZ: one of them pertains to clientelism and the other to the political identity of the HDZ.
Stier sees the intra-party elections as the opportunity for the “confrontation of ideas” which can make the HDZ stronger.
He criticised the current HDZ leadership for having embarked on political confrontation with people pursuing conservative and sovereigntist policies.
The HDZ leadership decided at a meeting on Friday to hold elections for a president, a deputy president and four vice-presidents on March 15. The new leadership will be elected by direct ballot on a one-member-one-vote basis.
More HDZ news can be found in the Politics section.