The leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Croatian People’s Party (HNS), Autochthonous Croatian Peasant Party (AHSS), Croatian Labour Party and Zagorje Party (ZS) on Wednesday signed a coalition agreement under the motto “Croatia is growing, there’s no going back,” which they said represented “the name, slogan, result and platform of the coalition.”
SDP president and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said afterwards that after four years under his cabinet, there was more order in Croatia, the state functioned better and people had more freedom. He said that “after many years, the state has a primary budget surplus” and was reducing the public debt. He said this debt was a problem one should deal with and that the incumbent ruling coalition had shown that it could deal with problems.
Milanovic said he did not see political opponents as “enemies” but people from whom one expected interaction, feedback, criticisms and ideas. However, he added, “there’s been none of that and there won’t be any.”
He said the incumbent coalition worked in difficult conditions over the past four years and that political opponents destroyed the work “by negligence and corruption.”
Milanovic called the new coalition “a coalition of mind and heart… We love our Croatia and are giving it all we can and know, what we accumulated as people through years of work and experience, education, trial and error, with the intention to make things better.”
The agreement was signed in the Varazdin Business Zone and he used the opportunity to announce goals for another term in office. “Our goals are for the state to be, in four years’ time, among the ten states in Europe in which it’s easiest to do business and create jobs.”
He boasted about the recent economic growth, saying it was hard over the past 20 years, “not just because of the war, but because of corruption and plunder in privatisation, a model of management and political view in which politics is the prey and public goods, public companies and the state budget something in which you can dip your hand with impunity and give to your political friends. Our coalition put an end to that.”
Milanovic said that despite all the results, Croatia was far from the end of the road, that this is “the end of a difficult beginning” and that things were becoming much more different. “This election is related to that. There’s no going back, we don’t have the right to act irresponsibly anymore. Let’s put our heads together. When we are together, united on the right ideas, then we are strong. When we’re divided, we’re not strong.”
HNS president Vesna Pusic said the coming parliamentary election would decide Croatia’s future. She said that 25 years ago she “couldn’t have imagined that the main topics at the 2015 election could still be intimidation and a policy of fear, threats, questions as to whether all people, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender and sexual orientation, should enjoy the same rights, and who will take revenge on whom after the election.”
However, fundamental civil liberties and human rights are still on the agenda and the fight for economic well-being will be accompanied by a fight for a space free of fear and threat, Pusic said.
She said the incumbent ruling coalition, just as the one in 2000, encountered an economic downturn when it came to power, yet was ending its term with a growth of 1.2 percent.
“The growth will be even stronger. All the indicators show that we are going in the right direction and this election poses a very clear dilemma – are we opting for a Croatia which is growing, in terms of the economy, exports and standards, or a Croatia which is declining, a Croatia which is growing in human, civil and everyday liberties, in freedom from fear, or a Croatia which is falling into political threats, fear, exclusion. Our coalition is leading and opting for a Croatia which is growing,” Pusic said.
Labour Party president Nansi Tireli said the coming election was extremely important. “This coalition was created from the same world view and moral milieu, far from the other side, which deals only with the past.”
Silvano Hrelja of the HSU said the coalition was facing “a fight against mental blockades and fallacies.” He thanked pensioners for their patience because pensions had not been indexed for two years and revealed that he had suggested to Deputy PM Branko Grcic that pensioners should receive a Christmas bonus this year.
Miljenko Jernejic of the ZS said the ruling coalition deserved to run the country for another term “in order to bring order to all spheres of social life.”
AHSS president Stanko Grcic said his party enjoyed support in rural areas and among older voters.
Arriving at the Varazdin Business Zone, the leaders of the new coalition were met by several members of the opposition HDZ party with banners saying “100 billion kuna in new debt, 100,000 lost jobs and 100,000 emigrants in four years of the Milanovic Cabinet.”