Tonino Picula, SDP’s Member of European Parliament: “Milanović Should Have Resigned”

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MEP’s harsh criticism for SDP president and former prime minister

Tonino Picula (SDP), Member of European Parliament, gave an interview last night to Jabuka TV and said that Zoran Milanović should not have run again for SDP president. “In the European Union, there are only seven countries which have social democratic governments. In all countries, the leaders have submitted their resignations. I think he should not have run again. He should have left some space for other people, other candidates. What happened at the last elections was not a political failure of one individual, but a failure of an approach to party management”, said Picula who supports Zlatko Komadina, Milanović’s main opponent in the intraparty elections, reports on February 27, 2016.

Asked whether their troubled relationship dates back to 2003, when Picula as the foreign minister delayed for a long time Milanović’s appointment as assistant foreign minister, Picula said they were not in conflict. “We have never yelled at each other. I have a different view of the party, a different temperament. We have different routes which met once when he was my associate. I left the ministry after we lost the 2003 elections, and he wanted to continue his career in politics”, said Picula.

Asked why he did not call the then SDP president Ivica Račan to resign after he lost the 2003 parliamentary elections, Picula did not give a clear answer. “With Račan, I had a different relationship than with Milanović. I have followed him in politics before he became party president”, said Picula and added that Račan perhaps should have also resigned. “If he did resign, he might have left some room for new people. Maybe he made a mistake.”

Picula claimed that he had not run for SDP president because he thought it would increase the chances Milanović would win. “There are two reasons why I am not running. Zlatko Komadina has announced his bid a year and a half ago and again immediately after we lost the parliamentary elections. My entry into the race would split the votes of those who want changes. Secondly, he is the president of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar party organization, he is a vice-president of the party and has better chances to win”, Picula explained and added that he planned to run for SDP vice-president.

Commenting on the European Commission report which claims that the economic climate in Croatia has gotten considerably worse, Picula said that this was a serious criticism for everything that had not been done in the last seven or eight years, and that Milanović’s government was substantially responsible for that. “It is hard to say that only one government is responsible, however, great responsibility is borne by the former government. It was a government which promised that it would bring change for the better. Only in the last year the economic reality began to change”, said Picula.

He would not reveal if he knew whether Andrija Plenković, who is also a member of European Parliament, would run for HDZ president. “It is hard for me to say. I think he would be a good president. It is necessary to see whether this ambition is realistic. It is one thing to think about it, but winning it is something completely different”, said Picula. “If Plenković and Komadina were to become party leaders, there would be a rhetorical shift away from confrontation at all costs. Perhaps it would last only a day or two, but it would imply we could improve our intraparty democracy. It is not enough just to change party leaders in order for political parties to start operating differently”, concluded Picula.


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