Zagreb and Split Facing Possibility of New Local Elections

Total Croatia News

Unless elected mayors manage to form a majority in town councils, early elections could follow.

Split and Zagreb will probably not succeed in their first attempt to constitute town councils after last month’s local elections, because both Andro Krstulovic Opara and Milan Bandić, as elected mayors, do not have the necessary majority, reports Večernji List on June 25, 2017.

The first session of the Zagreb City Assembly will take place on 29 June, while the Split Town Council will meet on 3 July.

The law provides for three attempts at 30-day intervals (90 days in total) for the constitution of the town councils. If this fails, new local elections for these representative bodies will be announced. Since early election would include not just councils, but also mayors, it can be presumed that these representative bodies will ultimately be constituted.

Bandić and Opara are not in danger of facing the opposition having a majority, which happened to Rijeka Mayor Vojko Obersnel (SDP). However, they have a problem since they are (at present) unable to form their own majority.

Bandić’s associates leave the impression that they are not worried and that the burden is on those who want to have for themselves the post of the Assembly Speaker. “The Assembly supports projects proposed by the mayor, but the majority in the Assembly is primarily required for the election of speaker and deputy speakers. The elected members need to agree who will be the speaker. The winning candidate must have at least 26 votes to be elected,” says Ivica Lovrić, Bandić’s close associate.

However, this is not exactly correct since Bandić will be paralysed as a mayor unless he has a majority in the City Assembly. In addition to his 14 members and seven HDZ members, Bandić needs five members elected on a list headed by independent rightwing candidate Bruna Esih. However, one of her conditions for any deal is that Marshal Tito Square must be renamed. On the other hand, Bandić insists that the issue should be decided by a referendum.

A possible alternative for Bandić is an attempt to reach an agreement with members elected on a list headed by independent moderate candidate Sandra Švaljek, who controls eight members. However, Darinko Kosor, one of the members elected on Švaljek’s list, claims that there is no possibility of an agreement with Bandić. Still, Kosor, Bandić and HDZ are partners at the national level, so nothing is impossible.

The newly-elected Split Mayor Opara is in a similar situation. His associates say that it is almost certain that the Town Council will not be constituted on 3 July, since Opara has so far been rejected by Pametno and MOST, while he does not want to cooperate with Želko Kerum, and Kerum does not want to support Opara. HDZ won 11 seats in Split, Pametno seven, Kerum eight, MOST five, and SDP and HNS four. Opara needs 18 votes for a majority, and sources say they he can count on one HNS councillor after HNS entered into a coalition with HDZ on the national level. But, he still needs six more hands.

Opara has offered Marijana Puljak, the leader of Pametno, to become Speaker of Town Council, but she has refused it. MOST also do not want to cooperate with HDZ. Sources close to Opara say they hope that Puljak might decide to cooperate with HDZ after she realises that they do not intend to work together with Kerum. Still, Puljak says that Pametno will not go into a coalition with HDZ because they do not trust them after 27 years of experience. “We will be a real opposition. We will support everything that will be for the benefit of Split, but also criticise everything which is bad. However, we will not enter into the coalition,” says Puljak.

Opara said yesterday that he expected the councillors to be responsible to citizens. “If they decide to hide in opposition, they should explain to their voters why they do not want to change things in Split and why they are blocking it”, he said. When it comes to MOST, Opara says he had talked with Ante Čikotić, who is head of MOST’s branch in Split. “Čikotić is influenced by his political mentors Bulj, Grmoja and Petrov, and he does not dare to enter into a partnership,” he concluded.


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