Central Europe Review: politics, society and culture in Central and Eastern Europe
Vol 2, No 4
31 January 2000

Croatia News Review 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 24 January 2000

Saša Cvijetić

Stipe Mesić, the candidate of the Croatian People's Party (HNS), supported by other parties in the "Group of Four" (HSS Croatian Peasants Party, IDS Istrian Democratic Assembly and LS Liberal Party), won the first place at the presidential elections that were carried out on 24 January. He received 1,100,671 votes or 41,11 per cent, while Dražen Budiša, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party and Croatian Social- Liberal Party (SDP/HSLS) coalition came in second, winning 741,837 votes or 27.71 per cent. Mate Granić of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) came in third with 22.47 per cent of the vote, and an independent candidate, Slaven Letica, was on the fourth place with 4.14 per cent.

He was followed by the candidate of the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP), Anto Đapić, with 1.84 per cent. Both independent candidate Ante Ledić and the candidate of the Croatian Popular Party (HPS), Tomislav Merčep, gained 0.85 per cent. The candidate of the New Croatia (NH) party, Ante Prkačin, came in eighth with 0.28 per cent of the vote, while the last in the standing was independent candidate and former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Justice, Zvonimir Šeparović, with 0.27 per cent of the vote. The voters turnout was 62.98 per cent. As none of the candidates managed to win 50 per cent majority, Mesić and Budiša will contest the presidential run-off on 7 February.

The results show that Mesić secured a majority in 18 out of 21 Croatian counties during Monday's voting. Budiša took the lead in three counties, and Granić won the top place in the Croatian Diaspora. Mesić mustered over 50 per cent of the vote in four counties - Istria (61.65 per cent), Krapina-Zagorje, Virovitica-Podravina and Zagreb. Budiša was on the second place in 13 counties and third in five counties, while he received more votes than other eight candidates in three counties - Međimurje, Šibenik-Knin and Dubrovnik-Neretva.

Returns from 141 polling stations organised outside Croatia in 48 countries differ considerably from the results in Croatia. Granić won the election convincingly in the Diaspora with 67.65 per cent. The turnout at the polling stations abroad was rather poor: just 18.96 per cent of 396,325 eligible voters in those 48 countries went to the polls on Monday.

On Thursday 27 January, Acting President of Republic Vlatko Pavletić appointed the new Government. Ivica Račan of the SDP is Croatia's new Prime Minister. The Government will have 23 members and 19 ministries, which is two ministries and three ministers more than before. Račan is seventh Prime Minister of Croatia since its independence and the first one who is not from the HDZ. Goran Granić (HSLS), Slavko Linić (SDP) and Željka Antunović (SDP) will be Račan's deputies. Other ministers are:

Mato Crkvenac (SDP) Finance
Jozo Radoš (HSLS) Defence
Šime Lučin (SDP) Interior
Tonino Picula (SDP) Foreign Affairs
Radimir Čačić (HNS) Development, Immigration and Reconstruction
Goranko Fižulić (HSLS) Economy
Ivica Pandžić (SDP) Veterans
Antun Vujić (SDP) Culture
Božidar Pankretić (HSS) Agriculture and Forestry
Alojz Tušek (HSLS) Maritime Affairs, Transport and Communications
Stjepan Ivanišević (SDP) Justice
Božo Kovačević (LS) Regional Planning, Building and Housing
Vladimir Strugar (HSS) Education and Sports
Davorko Vidović (SDP) Labour and Welfare System
Pave Župan- Rusković (independent, but proposed by SDP) Tourism
Ana Stavljević- Rukavina (independent, but proposed by HSLS) Health
Hrvoje Kraljević (HSLS) Science and Technology
Ivan Jakovčić (IDS) European Integration
Željko Pecek (HSS) Small and Medium Entrepreneurship

Zlatko Tomčić (HSS) will be the Speaker of the Parliament, Zdravko Tomac (SDP), Mato Arlović (SDP) and Baltazar Jalšovec (HSLS) his deputies. Two other deputies will be from the largest opposition party, the HDZ.

The new Government held its first session in Zagreb on Friday. Prime Minister Račan pointed out the new Government's firm commitment to fulfilling promises it had given before the elections, particularly promises concerning a programme of economic, political and social changes, and added this would be done in co-operation with the Parliament and the President of the Republic.

The recovery from the economic and social crisis as well as the co-operation with European Union (EU) were emphasised as the Government's long-term priorities. The Government's immediate tasks would be to carry out work on a state budget and present a proposal for the Government's upcoming programme which is to be presented to the Parliament at the beginning of next month, when a vote of confidence to the new Government is expected to be given, Račan said.

At the first session, the Government also discussed bills related to the structure of the Government, for instance, alterations of the Law on Government, organisation and scopes of activities of ministries and salaries of state officials. The Government is going to propose to the Parliament to cut by 40 per cent the salaries of the President of the Republic and of officials of the Parliament and Government.

The EU Council of Ministers decided on Monday in Brussels to establish, as soon as possible, a consultative task force on EU-Croatia relations and to invite Ivica Račan to its next session on 14 February, reads the special annex to the conclusions of the ministerial session, called the Declaration on Croatia. Recent parliamentary elections in Croatia, as well as the democratic way in which they were conducted, opened a new phase in Croatian politics. EU welcomes such development and will work on preparations of ground for future contractual relations, the statement claims.

The Council of EU is encouraged by the positive meetings held by the President of the EU Commission Romano Prodi in Zagreb on 14 January and will raise the level of its office in Zagreb and send a fact-finding mission to Zagreb within the next two months in order to assess the priorities for EU s help. In the end, the declaration expresses the hope of the EU ministers that other countries in the region will follow Croatia s example.

The Police announced that former Minister of Tourism Ivan Herak (HDZ) and of Agriculture Ivan Dominiković (HDZ) were arrested on Thursday under allegations of financial malversation and economic crime. Herak and his two assistants will be maintained in detention in Pula until the investigation is completed.

Assistant Minister of Defence, General Ljubo Ćesić-Rojs, submitted his resignation after the intervention of Acting President of the Republic Vlatko Pavletić. Ćesić-Rojs brought in public the serious allegations against presidential candidate Stipe Mesić and stated that he would not accept Mesić s command if he is elected President. Pavletić concluded that such behaviour is not in concordance with the Law on Defence Forces and asked Ćesić-Rojs to resign, which he subsequently did, announcing a private legal case against Mesić, who called Ćesić-Rojs no- one worth listening.to

Saša Cvijetić, 23 January 2000


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