In preparation for the coming parliamentary election, the ruling Social Democratic Party (SDP) held a motivational conference on Saturday at which the party’s leader and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said that every vote for the Croatia is Growing coalition was important and that votes must not be dispersed.
In his address, he said: “Let’s go for a victory. It will be difficult. Every vote for our coalition is important. Dispersal of votes is dangerous because it makes it possible for Croatia to be taken over again by people who can’t wait to again go for its throat.”
He said the SDP was “the heart of good change, a party of patriots” which had, over the past four years, “made Croatia great in heart as well as in mind.”
Milanovic said Europe was faced with difficult challenges, a situation “in which new value systems which last a while are being set up. We are a party of values. When we say that we are against fences and barbed wire (to stop migrants and refugees), we say it aware that we are risking, that our first task is to protect the security, peace and calm of Croatian citizens.”
He said the SDP’s first move after the election would be to open serious discussions on the reorganisation of local government in which the cohesion and strength of a small country as Croatia must be preserved. He said regional reorganisation touched on many different interests.
Addressing teachers, he said the SDP would see that their salaries were raised. “Until now, we couldn’t do it, we were keeping the standards.”
He said his government had not made any major omissions and had restored order, adding that solving the problems in shipbuilding was one of its greatest achievements. “That’s patriotism,” he said, adding that “a party’s purpose can’t be… the devastation of public companies.”
“A party’s purpose can be the creation of the state and in that one party perhaps played a bigger role than others, but when you reach a certain point, you must set yourselves higher goals. The Croatian state has been created, we are in the EU, we are in NATO, we must set ourselves new challenges. Croatia isn’t under threat from national minorities, it’s only under threat if we aren’t good enough, but we will prevent that. We ask for four more years of confidence, we are working for you, we are fighting. We are impertinent and rude if necessary, as we know that sometimes there’s no other way because we are small,” Milanovic said.
He said the SDP-led coalition was “an organisation with a mission, but not a sect… We are thinking people who promote and protect social values.”
He recalled that his government passed a law on registered partnership. “We will also protect the rights we we have given to the national minorities… If we make a promise to a community with whom we have been through difficult times over the past 25 years… then this must be honoured.”
Milanovic went on to say that after the election he would “sit down with banks” to see why Croatian citizens “are paying 6 or 6.5 percent interest on their loans for the next 25 years.” “I’m not promising any showdowns with the banks, but a meeting with common sense, with clear rules, so that people know exactly what they are repaying,” he added.
He said that his political opponents were offering “high taxes, a valley of tears and painful cuts.” “Even if there were grounds for that three or four years ago, today it is certainly not the time for what is being offered by our experts who have foreigners writing programmes for them,” Milanovic said, adding that letting foreigners write an economic programme was not patriotic.
Milanovic was frequently interrupted by applause and cheers from over 4,000 SDP delegates.
The conference was also addressed by SDP Deputy Prime Ministers Branko Grcic and Milanka Opacic and Finance Minister Boris Lalovac, who all boasted about successful government projects and positive macroeconomic indicators in recent months.
Grcic said that the present government had taken over a country with a high debt and “skeletons in the closet” and had managed to pull it out of a deep economic crisis after six years of committed work. “Every day we can see good figures about the state of the Croatian economy and that’s the greatest proof that we have done a good job,” he said, noting that the government had resisted demands for austerity because “we don’t need a valley of tears but a Croatia that’s growing.”
Opacic said that SDP members had nothing to be ashamed of because “the government has done the maximum considering the disorder and chaos” it had inherited. She stressed that during the crisis years the government had preserved wages and pension allowances and sympathised with people who found themselves in dire situations because of previous irresponsible governments.
She said that during the election campaign the SDP did not want to make promises lightly, noting that the present government had fulfilled the promises made by their political opponents but never delivered.
Lalovac also said that patriots had “left the country in chaos.” He criticised the strongest opposition HDZ party for acting as banks’ agent and for going to Austria and Italy for consultations with bankers, and promised that the SDP would continue fighting “for every citizen who lives in their home, regardless of whether their mortgage is tied to the Swiss franc, euro or kuna.”