Six Ministries to Be Abolished in Reshuffle?

Total Croatia News

Prime Minister Plenković is working on changes within his party as well.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković needs to fulfil three preconditions to carry out any serious reforms in Croatia. One is a stable majority in parliament, the second is firm support within the party, and the third is to have an effective government. None of these three elements currently exist but, according to a Plenković’s associate in the HDZ leadership, things might change soon, reports Jutarnji List on April 18, 2018.

A stable majority in the Parliament could be created by early parliamentary elections. This option is a possibility, but it would be hazardous and it is not being seriously considered at the moment. HDZ is currently focused on the other two elements – strengthening Plenković’s position at the helm of the HDZ and reshuffling the government.

The party leadership is talking about the reshuffle and is preparing a model to reduce the number of ministries by six, starting from the beginning of next year. The new structure is still being elaborated, but according to one source, the government would be similar to the structure which existed during the term of HDZ’s Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor (2009-2011), when there were fifteen ministries.

All options are still open, but as things stand now, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy, headed by Tomislav Ćorić, would be abolished. Energy would be joined with the Ministry of Economy, while the environmental protection portfolio would merge with the Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning, led by HNS’s Predrag Štromar. It is unlikely that Štromar would remain a minister or that HNS would have two out of fourteen ministries.

The government could also function without the Ministry of Veterans Affairs, currently headed by Minister Tomo Medved, which would be divided between the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Interior.

One of the ministers who could lose their ministry is Minister of Regional Development and European Union Funds Gabrijela Žalac. The regional development portfolio used to be part of the Ministry of Agriculture, and it is possible it will return there. The administration portfolio could again be merged with the Ministry of Justice, which means that Minister Lovro Kuščević would be left without a ministry. There is also no need for the Ministry of State Property, which was created at the beginning of this term when Minister Goran Marić refused to be a minister without portfolio. The ministry would be merged with the Ministry of Economy, headed by Martina Dalić, which would also swallow the Ministry of Labour and the Pension System.

The reshuffle and the reduction in the number of ministries would have two effects. One is that a smaller government would be more effective, while the personnel changes would influence the new intraparty balance of power. The reconstruction would not only reduce the number of ministers but also of state secretaries and assistant ministers, some of which positions are currently occupied by Plenković’s opponents.

“The ratification of the Istanbul Convention has shown that some people in the party want to bring down Plenković as HDZ president. The opposition to ratification and voting against the government have nothing to do with ideology and personal convictions. The Istanbul Convention has served to demonstrate dissatisfaction with the party leadership,” said the source, adding that it was a matter of jousting for power between moderate and conservative party wings. “Such divisions have always existed in the HDZ, but, with the exception of Tomislav Karamarko’s term as party leader, the moderate wing was always more dominant,” says one of Plenković’s associates, adding that he must show that he can control the party.

“If rebels escape without serious punishment, that will encourage all those at other party levels who are unhappy to work actively against the party and its leadership,” said the source, pointing out that HDZ secretary-general Gordan Jandroković will probably propose to Plenković to dismiss Davor Ivo Stier and Miro Kovač from the posts of party political secretary and party international secretary. “But that will be a delicate move. The dismissal of Stier and Kovač will surely be used to attack the party leadership, in an attempt to present Plenković as an authoritarian leader who does not want his associates to have any political integrity.”

No moves in this direction are expected before summer, and nothing will be done without thorough preparation. A lot will depend on economic indicators. If the GDP growth continues and if the Agrokor restructuring process is successfully completed, Plenković will have greater manoeuvring space in both the government and the HDZ.

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Ivanka Toma).


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