The party wants to create an impression that not everything has already been decided.
At its yesterday’s meeting, HDZ presidency decided to send a request to all local HDZ branches to stop publicly expressing their support for potential candidates for HDZ president (this primarily refers to Andrej Plenković), because they want all candidates to be in an equal position, reports Večernji List on June 28, 2016.
Almost no day passes without some prominent HDZ member expressing his or her support for Andrej Plenković on behalf of entire local branches. The latest ones to do it were Andrija Mikulić, head of the Zagreb branch, and Tomislav Čuljak, who promised support of HDZ in Vukovar-Srijem County. Sources say that HDZ vice-president and MEP Ivana Maletić was the first who said at the meeting of the presidency that it would good for HDZ to have at least two or three candidates for party president.
It is unusual that local branches have started endorsing candidates even before it is known who will actually be a candidate. Also, since HDZ has over 200,000 members, it would be strange if the elections were to be held under the “one member, one vote, one candidate” principle.
Darko Milinović, head of HDZ in Lika-Senj County and a potential candidate, said at the meeting that the times when there was only one man capable of being the president were long gone. Foreign Minister Miro Kovač allegedly objected that Andrija Mikulić already endorsed Plenković. Sources say that Milijan Brkić, who is currently the acting party president, proposed that everybody stops with individual endorsements because no one will become an official candidate before 6 July when they have to submit at least 5,000 signatures of support.
So far, it seems likely that Milinović could stand against Plenković. Unofficially, he has already collected 3,000 signatures for his candidacy, and the final decision will be made by the end of the week. Brkić said yesterday that he would announce whether he would run by Friday. Other potential candidates are Ivana Maletić, Miro Kovač and controversial Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović.
The presidency named Damir Jelić as campaign manager, while Ivana Maletić will lead a group that will draft the election manifesto. HDZ has also formed a group that will change the party rules of procedure, which will strengthen collective bodies and reduce the authority of the party president.