Karamarko may be gone, but that was not the end of internal conflicts within HDZ.
After the latest scandal with the discovery that HDZ took out loans from private companies without the knowledge of some members of the party leadership, Andrej Plenković, who will soon officially become the party president, and Milijan Brkić, former party general secretary and current deputy president, seem to be on a verge of open conflict, reports Jutarnji List on July 7, 2016.
“I have asked the current HDZ general secretary to prepare a report on the financing of the party, not only when it comes to this loans, but overall. It is natural that everyone in my position would want to get information about the party finances, because I had no knowledge about this issues. As for this particular problem, it is not only the question whether the loans were lawful, but also why they were taken and from whom. It seems to me that it is not customary that members of party presidency did not know about it. If that is true, I will demand political responsibility of those who were responsible, who led the party and made such decisions”, said Plenković yesterday, alluding obviously to then party secretary general Brkić, who did know about the loans. Interestingly, when Plenković came to the HDZ headquarters on Wednesday to officially submit his candidacy for party president, deputy party president Brkić was not there.
It is obvious that relations between Plenković and Brkić are far from idyllic: not only did Plenković announce he would demand political responsibility for controversial loans, but he also dismissed Brkić’s proposal that the party statutes should be changed prior to parliamentary elections. Brkić’s goal is to use the changes to lessen the powers of party president.
“All members of party leadership must know how the party is financed”, said Plenković, adding that amendments to the statutes were not a priority. “We will discuss that after the elections, this question is not important at the moment. I do not see any need to change the statutes ahead of the elections”, said Plenković on Wednesday.
Many consider his statements to be an attack on Brkić. Their relationship has been strained from the very beginning, and there is a lot of mistrust between them. However, until now Plenković did not want to publicly enter into conflict with Brkić. However, according to sources close to Plenković, he is surprised by a number of scandals that are being published in the media every few days. “He is worried because he has to start campaign for parliamentary elections”, said a source. “He must now take matters into his own hands and show who is the boss, especially since he is the only candidate for party president.”
Some members of the party leadership believe that Brkić should resign and demonstrate that he really cares about the party. “I do not think he will resign. He will fight until the end. However, once he receives financial reports, Plenković will make the next move”, said the source.
People around Brkić believe that now is not the time to attack the deputy party president, because he is needed to Plenković to organize the election campaign. “I know that the two of them are not close and that Plenković will probably bring in his own people, but he should wait until the elections”, says a source close to Brkić. However, those who do not support Brkić say that idea that he is irreplaceable as an organizer is just a myth. But, what is indisputable is that Brkić, unlike Plenković, is very popular with regular party members.