The first round of voting will take place on 19 November.
The SDP Main Committee on Saturday determined that eight candidates have fulfilled prerequisites to run for party president, which marked the beginning of the official campaign for internal elections which will be held on 19 November, reports Jutarnji List on November 5, 2016.
The candidates for presidency are: Davor Bernardić, president of the SDP branch in Zagreb; Orsat Miljenić, former Justice Minister; Ranko Ostojić, former Interior Minister; Karolina Leaković; Tonino Picula, Member of European Parliament; Vesna Škulić; Domagoj Hajduković, president of the Osijek-Baranja County branch; and Gordana Sobol.
Chairman of the Central Election Commission Vedran Lendić told reporters that all eight candidates had fulfilled the conditions and collected at least a thousand signatures of support form party members. Unofficial sources claim that one candidate had as many as 1,500 signatures rejected as invalid, but Lendić did not confirm this. “Nominations have been accepted unanimously. We have 8 candidates for party president, 78 for party presidency and 383 for the Main Committee”, said Lendić.
Davor Bernardić, who was reported to the Election Commission due to suspicion about the validity of his signatures, reiterated to reporters that a dirty campaign was led against him by one of his rivals, who had planted false signatures. Bernardić did not want to name the opponent, but responded affirmatively when asked by reporters whether it was Orsat Miljenić.
Gordana Sobol did not want to comment on the “dirty campaign” allegations, and just told reporters that “in reality, no one is innocent.”
The Main Committee decided that in the next two weeks there would be five debates held in major towns.
Speaking later on Saturday, Miljenić dismissed Bernardić’s allegations. “I am sorry that my colleague Bernardić has begun the official campaign for SDP president by telling lies. If he had anything to say to me, he could and should have told me today during the session of the Main Committee, where we met and talked. I understand that Davor is stressed, but that is no excuse for such behavior. I expect that there will not be any similar statements in the future”, said Miljenić.
He added that, no matter what, during the campaign he would talk only about his personal vision for SDP in which, he says, there will be room for everybody, and would not speak about other candidates. He expressed confidence that after the election Bernardić and he would successfully cooperate.
The two of them are considered to be favourites to enter the second round of voting. Miljenić reportedly has the support of current party leadership, including the outgoing party president and former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović, while Bernardić represents the other faction in the party.