SDP reportedly believes that Milanović’s words will be damaging to their electoral prospects, while HDZ thinks Milanović will increase his support.
Almost a week after the publication of now famous secret recordings of a meeting between SDP president Zoran Milanović and veterans’ representatives, it is still not clear whether Milanović’s controversial statements about Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina might help or hurt him, reports Večernji List on August 30, 2016.
“This is not something that is beneficial to us”, say some of the people from SDP leadership. Although some of them in recent days tried to defend their party boss in public, off the record they do criticize him. Even though they mostly agree with the substance of what Milanović said, they would still prefer for the meeting not to have taken place at all, because they believe it will only bring problems.
Some are even sorry that the party failed to once again use services of American campaign expert Alex Brown, since they are convinced that situation like this would not have happened. There are two main things which some SDP members believe Milanović did wrong. One is the fact that these veterans’ representatives were even invited to a meeting, since they were the ones who were trying for four years to bring down Milanović and his government. “Such people do not wish anything good to SDP or to him personally”, says one senior SDP official. Another issue is that no one in the party even knew that such meeting would take place, with the exception of Milanović, SDP’s MP Franko Vidović who organized it, and former Defence Minister Ante Kotromanović who was also present.
The general attitude is that the meeting will not bring any benefits, but could damage SDP’s chances, at least a bit. They are convinced that rightwing voters will never vote for SDP, while those on the left could stay home or vote for the Pametno Party.
However, sources from HDZ leadership say that Milanović statements will actually work to his benefit. “Everything that he said about veterans and about Serbia will bring him advantage, that is my personal impression. He demonstrated that he was a fighter and we are a little bit nervous”, says a member of HDZ leadership.
Another source from HDZ leadership says that what Milanović said about Serbia is the same what everyone else really thinks. “I am convinced that the recordings of the meeting were released by Milanović himself. I am surprised that he did not use the opportunity to accuse HDZ for recording the meeting because veterans’ associations are mainly connected with HDZ”, says a second source. He adds that the recordings will not harm Milanović, but could hurt HDZ.
HDZ managed to somewhat turn the whole incident to its own advantage by focusing on the fact that during the meeting Milanović mentioned HDZ president Plenković’s mother in a negative context. By emphasizing that part of the meeting, they tried and partly succeeded in presenting Milanović as an unscrupulous person.