Jadranka Kosor: An Anniversary to be Celebrated

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The Constitution obliges us and creates a framework for political activity, although not prescribing that political promises must come true, nor does it forbid false promises

On November 6, 2016, a year has passed since Božo Petrov signed and verified a statement with a public notary stating he will never form a majority with HDZ or SDP. And if that were to happen, he would be ready to resign. The statement read: “If MOST joins a coalition with a party that governed Croatia in the past ten years and enables a parliamentary majority, I guarantee to resign the position of MOST president and relinquish my would be MP position.” He signed, which we never doubted and he never denied.

This unusual act in the final stages of the electoral campaign of 2015 gained huge media space and was treated as an act of morality, a guarantee and outline of a new direction in politics, while many citizens saw the personal sacrifice of Petrov as hope and a ray of sunshine in the dark political tunnel of false promises.

But, marking the anniversary of the “historic” signature (also shedding new light on notarization), it must be said Božo Petrov was a Deputy Prime Minister and now holds the parliamentary speaker function with a two-year term as a guarantee that all promises will be made true. Both were accomplished in coalition with HDZ and a majority in the parliament which they formed together last year and again this autumn.

Within just a year from his notarized signature, Petrov whirl winded his way into the skies of Croatian politics, despite the forgotten and ignored signature which is not mentioned anymore. In coalition with his second PM in just a year, in an interview for Večernji List Petrov answered a question about Plenković’s selection of ministers with: “This answer I will keep to myself. On purpose. I said I would not interfere. The government is the responsibility of the HDZ, while MOST is responsible for four ministers and their cooperation.”

In the meantime the new Finance Minister presented a new tax reform and its speedy implementation in everyday life. As the Finance Ministry is obviously not “MOST responsibility,” it is still unknown how MOST will react to many public objections to areas of tax reform that was begun over six months ago.

Does MOST feel it is just for those who have the most to get more, with higher prices for bread, milk and medicine? Dairy products and medical equipment will be more expensive, while the first real estate will not be tax-exempt anymore. Who buys a first home? Usually young couples, people from which the government expects to improve the demographic image of Croatia. Which is why they added Demographics to the Social Welfare Ministry, although welfare and demographics have nothing in common.

In all documents on population policy written in Croatia in the past years, one of the main measures cited easier home ownership for young people so the abolishment of tax-exempt purchases can in no way be considered a contribution to population politics and care for youth who are leaving Croatia. The Commissioner for Information also had a say in care for youth in Croatia, obliging President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović to finally answer simple questions sent by a website.

Fact is, the tax reform will not upset Croatian officials. Their salaries will increase and I can write about it without restraint as during my government salaries were reduced as well as privileged pensions for officials. In a land where hundreds of thousands of citizens have frozen accounts, pensions are low and many who work can barely keep up with loan payments, a warning on the increasing salaries of officials is not demagogy.

When speaking of youth, promises and hope, let us mention August 27, 2015, when Petrov arrived to St. Mark’s Square in Zagreb demanding the number of MPs in Parliament be reduced from 151 to 99, for their salaries to be reduced to 9.999 Kuna and from that money 99.999 Kuna be used as loans for 999 young entrepreneurs innovators so they would not leave Croatia. The MOST statement read: “…more than a third of MPs have not participated in parliamentary discussions for longer than today’s press conference, and yet they earned in 4 years nearly a million Kuna each.” This was ahead of last year’s elections. And a little after the elections Petrov co-signed a cooperation with an MP just like they described in the statement. Which did not show up in Parliament, did not participate and “earned” an MPs pay.

Some will say, promises of reducing salaries for MPs were made for last year’s elections. In the last election, after the government as dismissed, there were no promises of hitting officials with 9.999 Kuna. But there was also no mention that the credibility of politics and politicians includes everything they ever said, promised and forgot.

As, more expensive milk and bread were not announced in electoral campaigns. Neither was a higher VAT for catering and books, forcing small publishers to shut down. MOST, as the main partner in government, still hasn’t officially commented although it is highly unlikely the tax reform wasn’t first agreed between partners and then released.

In the meantime, former member of HVO and Croatian Army were arrested so politicians and public are focused on discussions over who knew what and when. Although Mr. Miljavac in his recent interview for RTL clearly stated he wrote of all this to the Croatian President a long time ago. Besides, many retired generals (Miljavac, Markač, Gotovina…) are members of her National Security Council, Krstičević presides it so there certainly was time for the painful topic to be on the agenda. Certainly, many will expect most from the government which does not have a lot of space to manoeuvre.

Tax reform will remain in the public’s and media eyes. As Croatia is a social state and social justice state as defined by the Constitution which reads: “… Republic of Croatia is shaped and developed as a modern democratic state in which equality, freedoms and rights of people and citizens are guaranteed and secured, while their economic and cultural progress and social welfare is promoted.”

Article 51 also states: “The tax system is based upon equality and justice.”

The Constitution obliges us and creates a framework for political activity. Although not prescribing that political promises must come true, nor does it forbid false promises.

For the original and more from Jadranka Kosor’s blog, click here.


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