Public Health Has Priority over Parliamentary Elections

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, April 24, 2020 – Members of both the ruling majority and the Opposition said on Friday, in a comment on media speculation that parliamentary elections could be held in the summer, that elections should be held when the epidemiological situation became favourable, to avoid jeopardising public health.

Parliament Speaker and HDZ secretary-general Gordan Jandroković told a news conference the Opposition was insisting on the topic of elections in an attempt to depict the HDZ as trying to fish in troubled waters.

“Elections will certainly be held by their constitutional deadline but at this moment we are preoccupied with the fight for the health and lives of our citizens, and we also care about their safety,” said Jandroković, stressing that as long as the situation was as it was, elections would not be organised but that the constitutional deadline to hold them by mid-December would be respected.

Jandroković said that the plan was to hold the elections by their constitutional deadline if there was no significant change in public health but he added that no one could guarantee anything.

Elections would not be held by their constitutional deadline only in the event of a major health crisis, but I doubt that will happen, he said.

Asked if holding elections during the summer was an option, as speculated by some media, Jandroković said there had been no discussion about any deadlines in the HDZ, as the current situation did not allow any plans.

He noted that 47 countries had postponed different types of elections over the coronavirus crisis.

As for electronic voting and postal ballot, the HDZ is not considering it for the time being, he said.

Opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) whip Arsen Bauk said that there were two conditions for holding elections – the right to public assembly and freedom of movement. Without that, elections would not be regular, he said.

“Once those conditions are met, the SDP will be ready for elections,” he said.

Should it be impossible to meet those conditions, the Constitution provides for such situations and that option would then be activated, said Bauk.

The SDP is against electronic and postal voting because it would enhance the diaspora’s influence on the election outcome and one would also not be able to prevent possible abuse, said Bauk.

Opposition Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Krešo Beljak said that elections should be held as soon as the conditions were created. Beljak believes electronic voting would open a Pandora’s box, noting that he would not trust the result of those elections.

Electioneering is impossible in the current situation and the question of legitimacy of such elections would arise, he said, calling for a consensus on the matter and noting that public health should be the main priority.

If the ruling majority decides to hold elections in the summer, that will mean that they want to profit from the crisis, Beljak said, adding that holding elections now would suit the HDZ as it believed that it would score better results thanks to the popularity of the team managing the coronavirus crisis and the new health minister.

MOST party leader Bozo Petrov said the HDZ was calculating with whether to go to the polls or not, the reason being that it is afraid that in two to three months’ time, problems caused by the coronavirus epidemic as well as the government’s belated response to it would become obvious.

Petrov again called for a budget revision and for the introduction of electronic and postal voting.

GLAS leader Anka Mrak-Taritaš said the minimum standards for elections were free movement and the possibility of public assembly.

If life is normalised to a certain degree, it would be much more appropriate to hold the elections in the autumn, she said, adding that electronic and postal voting is very good but that it would not be possible to organise it in the current situation.

Milorad Batinić, whip of the Croatian People’s Party (HNS), a junior partner in the HDZ-led coalition, said that the election date depended on the epidemiological situation.

Should it not be possible to hold elections due to public health reasons, there are constitutional provisions that regulate how and when they can be held, he said, adding that the idea of electronic and postal voting was acceptable to his party.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.


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