Vol 2, No 3
24 January 2000
C E N T R A L E
U R O P E A N N E W S:
News Review for Croatia
All the important news from Croatia
since 15 January 2000
Presidential elections are taking place on Monday, 24 January. 7038 polling stations will be opened, out which 141 will be located abroad (in 48 states where Croatia has diplomatic and consular offices). The campaign seems to me more interesting than the one for the parliamentary elections, since the polls conducted in past couple of weeks indicate significant shifts in the preferences of the electorate. In the polls conducted at the end of 1999 (before the parliamentary elections), the candidate of the former ruling party Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) Mate Granić scored as much as 51%. After the parliamentary elections (beginning of January), the first polls were giving best chances to the candidate of the winning coalition between the HSLS and SDP, Dražen Budiša (30%), while Granić got 22%. However, all the recent polls show that the candidate of the "Group of Four", Stipe Mesić, would gain the highest number of votes. In the poll published in Vecernji list on 18 January, Mesić scored 29.1%, Budiša 21.3% and Granić 16%. In Nacional on 20 January, Stipe Mesić got 33.3%, Budiša 23.7% and Granić 14%. Since this indicates that none of the candidates would win in the first round, Nacional asked a sample of 2000 people who they would vote for in the second round. If Mesić and Budiša go to the second round, Mesić would get 50.8% and Budiša 36.0%. If Budiša and Granić go to the second round, Budiša would get 56.9% and Granić 29.7%. If Mesić would confront Granić in the second round, he would get 62.9% and Granić 25.3%. So, these data clearly indicate that Stipe Mesić will be the next President of Croatia. However, surprises are not excluded, since, similar to parliamentary elections, there is a high number of undecided (up to 20%), whose votes (if they turn up at the polling stations) might be crucial for the final outcome.
President of the Social-Democratic Party (SDP) Ivica Račan will be appointed Croatia's new Prime Minister on 27 January, Acting President of the Republic Vlatko Pavletić told reporters on Wednesday, adding that he would appoint the entire government on the same day, if Račan were to submit a list with the names of Government members by that time. Pavletić also announced that the Parliament would be constituted on Wednesday, 2 February. The appointment of the new Prime Minister can be performed even earlier, should there be no complaints to the Constitutional Court regarding the course of the parliamentary elections. In that case, Račan would become the new Prime Minister already on 22 January, Pavletić said.
Ivica Račan stated that the new Parliament would most probably confirm the new Government on 9 February, when he would also present the Government's programme. Račan will most probably make a tour of European capitals in February, which would include Rome, Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and Budapest. At the end of February, a new annual budget will be submitted to Parliament for debate, Račan confirmed.
On 20 January, the six parties of the winning coalition - Social Democratic Party (SDP), Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), Croatian Peasants' Party (HSS), Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS), Croatian People's Party (HNS) and the Liberal Party (LS) - signed a formal coalition agreement on the constitution of the Government and the Presidency of the Parliament. This agreement is aimed at securing the stability of the Government and Parliament and defines methods of operation and decision-making in these two institutions as well as their structure and criteria for the distribution of posts. They will be allocated in line with election results - 50 per cent of all posts will go to the SDP, 25 per cent to the HSLS and other 25 per cent to the parties of the "Group of Four". The new Government will be formed in line with the existing law, which will be changed upon the constitution of the House of Representatives on 2 February. New appointments will be announced in line with those changes, which envisage the reorganisation of the Government and the creation of five new ministries - Ministry of European Integration, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Planning, Ministry of Public Works, Reconstruction and Building, Ministry of Energy, Industry, Trade and Privatisation, and Ministry of Small- and Medium-Sized Entrepreneurship. The Government will include the Prime Minister, two vice-prime ministers and ministers. A change is the introduction of the office of Deputy Prime Minister, which will probably be occupied by Goran Granić, Acting President of the HSLS. The coalition government will make decisions by a majority vote, and in important issues by two-thirds majority vote. Ivica Račan also told reporters the coalition would not be affected by the presidential elections, at which the candidates of both the SDP/HSLS and the HNS/HSS/IDS/LS coalitions have a chance to enter the second round.
Saša Cvijetić, 23 January 2000
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