ZAGREB, September 18, 2018 – The Presidency and parliamentary group of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) met on Monday but failed to agree on how to resolve the crisis the party is in, with president Davor Bernardić saying he did not intend to resign and that big business and import lobbies were trying to take him down.
Speaking to reporters after the 4.5-hour meeting, Bernardić said the party’s policy could not be run by the street and that everything should be discussed by the party bodies.
He said he proposed a compromise to his opponents in the party – that he would not chair the parliamentary group. Instead, the Presidency would choose a candidate acceptable to all. He added that as president his job was to protect the SDP statute and democratic procedures in the party.
Asked if he thought he should resign because of the party’s poor rating and his unpopularity, Bernardić said “the polling agencies work in the interest of the ruling HDZ.”
“Interest import lobbies and big business launched a campaign against me when I started talking about Agrokor, insisting on the truth… and asking where the money is,” he said, referring to the ailing conglomerate.
Bernardić dismissed allegations that the inner SDP leadership favouring him tried to talk him into resigning this past weekend.
Peđa Grbin, one of the several senior SDP officials who were recently suspended for criticising the party leadership, told reporters that a proposal was presented during the meeting to hold an intra-party referendum on holding party elections, but that it was not accepted.
He said that Bernardić came to the meeting with the proposal that he should be elected chair of the SDP parliamentary group but that by the end of the meeting it transpired that he did not have the necessary support. In the context of the fact that the next parliamentary session starts on Wednesday, Grbin said that the final deadline for the SDP parliamentary group to hold a meeting was Tuesday.
He also noted that party members who were dissatisfied with the way Bernardić was running the party did not intend to leave the SDP but would continue to represent the voters who had elected them.
Deputy party whip Sabina Glasovac said that she would step down if Bernardić took over the chairmanship of the SDP parliamentary group, while current party whip Arsen Bauk said that he was unable to function in the current situation.