The Most Despised Croatian Politician? – All of the Above

Total Croatia News

After the latest developments, it is difficult to find anyone in Croatian politics who has improved their personal reputation.

The reputation of Croatian politicians with regards to morality and honesty has never been particularly good, but the events that have taken place throughout last week have destroyed even the last illusions. There is hardly anyone who has at least managed to preserve any dignity, let alone improve it.

This is best seen by a poll taken by, one of Croatia’s most popular websites, which asked its readers to select the politician whom they despise the most. Politicians from all sides of the political spectrum received an impressive “support” but the highest number of votes has been given to “all of the above” which seems like a rather objective assessment.

Yesterday’s vote on the motion of no confidence against Finance Minister Marić has not done anything to improve the impression. With MPs saying one thing one day and then doing another thing the very next day, it was difficult to watch it all.

The most surprising vote of the day was certainly the one cast in favour of the Minister by Tomislav Saucha, a long-time member of SDP who recently left the party after an investigation was launched against him for the alleged misuse of government funds and the forgery of official documents. He was a loyal member of the party since his youth and was even the chief of staff of the Prime Minister when SDP was last in power, but now, faced with investigation and possibly serious jail time, he suddenly decided to cross over and support the government, despite he himself personally signing the motion against the Finance Minister just a couple of weeks ago. His explanation that he did it in order to spare voters the cost of new parliamentary elections does not seem to be believed by anyone. Whether there were any ”behind the scenes” deals made, or whether he made the decision alone to try to help himself a bit, or for some other reason, such dramatic reversals do leave voters feeling cheated. His decision was obviously not an easy one, as evidenced by the fact that yesterday afternoon, after the vote, he felt so sick that he had to seek medical help.

Other politicians have not fared much better. HDZ and MOST leaders were very friendly just until a few days ago, saying they had a very good cooperation in the government. Now, just a short time later, they are trading accusations against each other, coupled with personal insults.

The situation is no better on the opposition benches. HNS seems unsure about whether it wants to stay in the opposition or perhaps join the government in some way. With local elections approaching, it cannot do it openly for now, given that its voters are mostly leftwing and would abandon the party if it were seen to be ready to join a centre-right government, but after the local elections are over, that does not seem at all impossible.

The main opposition party, SDP, has also not done itself any favours. In addition to internal disagreements about how it should vote on certain important issues, and occasionally losing MPs to other parties, it has the distinction of having one of the most inept politicians in Croatia as party president. In probably the most important speech of his political life; on Wednesday when he had to present the opposition’s request to bring down the Finance Minister and quite possibly the government with him, Davor Bernardić gave a confused speech in which he hardly mentioned any of the accusations formally levelled against the minister. There is almost no one who sees him as a possible future Prime Minister, and there are many in his own party who fear that possible early parliamentary elections could spell disaster for the party with such a leader.

What will happen next is anybody’s guess. The chances are that today, the Parliament will leave for a long break until after the local elections, the first round will take place on 21 May and the second round on 4 June. In the meantime, it is likely that HDZ will be able to cobble together a small majority, which will enable it to appoint four new ministers who will replace MOST’s ministers dismissed by the Prime Minister last week. The government, with such a small majority, would be inherently unstable and would likely not last beyond autumn, when parliamentary elections could be held.

Another option is that all parties realise there is no productive way to continue and that early parliamentary elections would be the best option. There were proposals that the elections should take place on 4 June, together with the second round of the local elections, but now the deadline for the dissolution of the Parliament has been missed, so the parliamentary elections would have to be held separately. Due to an unwritten rule that there are no elections in summer months, they seem unlikely to take place before autumn at the earliest. However, given the opinion polls, the results might be similar to the current distribution of power, which would mean that we would possibly find ourselves in the same situation for the third time in a row.

If there was one silver lining in yesterday’s vote, it was that all members of Parliament appeared in the chamber at the moment of the vote, which is a rare sight indeed. Who knows if it will ever happen again.


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