ZAGREB, June 26, 2020 – President Zoran Milanovic said on Friday that due to an increase in the number of new coronavirus infections, postponement of parliamentary elections set for July 5 was theoretically possible but that he doubted that the election would be postponed.
Milanovic noted that postponement of the elections in the current situation would be constitutionally possible but that it would require his holding talks with the prime minister as well as understanding on the part of the Opposition.
“Such a situation is not exactly envisaged by the Constitution, but some sort of solution would be found. I believe it would be theoretically possible, but in practice that is not going to happen,” Milanovic said after attending a graduation ceremony at the Dr Franjo Tudjman Military Academy.
Milanovic added that he would not initiate talks on the postponement of the elections because he had not been the one to dissolve the parliament.
“I said that elections should be held at some other time, but after that I stopped commenting. (PM) Plenkovic contacted me and I asked him about his priorities, and holding elections on June 21 was definitely not among them,” Milanovic said in reference to Plenkovic’s statement that “by dissolving Parliament in May we wanted the election to be held when the intensity of the coronavirus was lowest, and it was the President who decided that the election would be held on the second to last date possible under the constitution.”
Milanovic went on to say that June 28 and July 5 had been discussed as possible dates.
“I said, ‘They will be held on July 5’. Hindsight is a good thing, but one leaves traces. I cannot do anything with regard to elections now without the prime minister’s initiative, but that, too, is questionable. That option has not been specified,” he said when asked about the possibility of delaying the elections set for July 5.
Asked what would happen if the situation with the coronavirus escalated, Milanovic said that he did not know and that one should have thought about it sooner.
Asked about the politicisation of the national team managing the coronavirus crisis, Milanovic said that he, himself, was asking himself such questions but that he did not know the answer.
“I have been wondering about some things, but I have called the elections, they should be held on July 5, and that’s it,” he said.
Milanovic was also asked to comment on the Adria Tour tennis tournament in Zadar, at which several players have contracted COVID-19, including the world’s No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic.
“We were breaking news on CNN yesterday morning, but not for positive things. CNN is watched by guests on whom we may have counted to visit, and now that’s not going to happen. I understand the need to promote a destination, but maybe that was a mistake. If (Bulgarian tennis player Grigori) Dimitrov had told about his contracting the coronavirus a few hours later, maybe all this negative publicity would not have happened. I understand the motives, if this had not happened, we would have said that the tournament was a great show,” Milanovic said.
He also commented on whether PM Plenkovic should go into self-isolation due to contact with Djokovic.
“You don’t want to hear my opinion on self-isolation and how it is conducted. Plenkovic’s problem is that both (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel and the Canadian prime minister went into self-isolation after exactly the same situation, and now he is being criticised.”
A complete lockdown, such as the one that happened in March and April, is not possible again, he said.
“Whoever on the crisis management team said that there would be no lockdown again was right,” Milanovic said, adding that one could not do more than wearing face masks and protecting the elderly and ill.
“There is no reason for panic. Elections will be held in a week’s time and we’ll see what happens,” he said.
As for post-election consultations on the formation of the new parliamentary majority, Milanovic said that there was no set deadline by which he had to appoint the Prime Minister-designate but that consultations would first be held with those who bring him the 76 signatures of support required to form a majority.
“Consultations will really be consultations, not a parade. They will be very transparent, not the way they were in some other situations, which has undermined trust in democracy. I don’t have a favourite in these elections,” Milanovic said.