ZAGREB, March 11, 2018 – The strongest opposition party, the Social Democrats (SDP), unanimously adopted at its seventh convention on Saturday a new statute whereby “the party additionally democraticises itself.”
The delegates tried to amend the draft statute with 145 amendments, most of which were rejected. Among other things, the new statute makes the procedure for replacing the party president more difficult than under the previous statute.
In his introductory address at the convention, party president Davor Bernardić said he was “extremely proud that the SDP practices consistency and equality, as seen in the party’s new statute which brings 50% of women on the SDP’s slates for the Croatian parliament, the European Parliament and county assemblies, whereby the SDP has become the first party in Croatia in which female and male politicians are equals.”
Earlier, he announced that the new statute democratised and decentralised the party. At the end of the convention, he told the delegates it was important that they had set a new course for the SDP and that it was now up to them, more united and stronger, to keep their promises, as Croatia deserved it.
SDP also adopted a new party programme called “For a good society”, with only six votes against of the 1,000 delegates attending the strongest opposition party’s 7th convention. The key guideline of the programme is “looking to the future,” said its main author, Davorko Vidović. “We are not afraid of the future, we wish to go towards it. That was our guiding thought in drawing up the programme whereby we offer people a better and more progressive future.”
He said that in writing it, they wanted to avoid unproductive debates on the past which divided society, and that the programme showed courage to come out of the state of conflicts weighing the country down so that a step forward could be made. The focus of the new programme are people, who have become a burden, and a good society, which has been forgotten, Vidović said.
He said the programme highlighted social investing, which saw the education of children not as an expense but an investment in the future. The situation on the labour market is “increasingly precarious”, so the SDP insists on investing in people and life-long learning, he added.
Vidović said the programme envisaged a change in neglected institutions which had collapsed, adding that it was necessary to improve the societal management system and offer a radically different picture of politics. He criticised the political parties, including the SDP, for being preoccupied with themselves and becoming clientelist.
Discussing the programme, some members were quite critical. Mirando Mrsić said, that despite an indecisive government, the SDP’s standing in public opinion polls remained at 20%. “If there was an election today, 20% of our votes would go to Živi Zid and 10% to MOST,” he said. “Instead of fighting to be number one, we are fighting not to be third.”
He said members must admit they were apathetic and indecisive, and that the SDP had not imposed itself as a protector of citizens. He said the programme should have clearly said they valued man more than profit, adding that the party had not offered a single solution over the past year.
Some speakers called for ending intra-party rows and for unity, but Peđa Grbin was also critical. “We have the worst government in history. The other day it received the biggest slap from Brussels, yet the SDP hasn’t been recognised as an alternative,” he said, adding that this was because the party had not given people ideas and content.
Gordan Maras said the SDP must change for the better as only a better SDP could save Croatia, adding that the party must again focus on people.