MAY 18 2012 00:32h
Inner party elections, going on at the same time in two largest Croatian political parties, are not only going to reveal a new opposition leader and affirm an old opposition leader. Next two months should reveal candidates for the position of the Mayor of the capital city as well.
A Mayor of the Croatian capital is at the same time the second strongest political post within the State, right one step below the position of the prime minister. Although the Constitution will impose the state president and the Parliamentary spokesman above the Mayor of the Croatian capital, those letters on paper can't compete the billion of Euros the first man of Zagreb will have to manage….
The budget of the city of Zagreb is larger than a budget of any other Croatian city and county district together. Furthermore, Zagreb is the only city in Croatia that has a status of the county. One who wins Zagreb over the local elections will practically win a half of Croatia. And Zagreb is currently managed by ''no one's'' man (with broken authority though).
And that's why SDP has no more important political decision in this moment but to choose its candidate. Although it is well known who the next Ivica Racan is, the next Milan Bandic is about to be chosen.
There is an implied opinion that the red candidate running for the Mayor’s position has already been chosen. But the question is if these predictions are really correct?
The president of Zagreb's SDP Davor Bernardic is a self-candidate running for this duty but he was never appointed for this candidature officially, and there are many men in SDP who would be overwhelmed if Bernardic never gets such an appointment. Although the membership of Zagreb's SDP will formally decide about his candidature, and the membership is controlled by Bernardic's men on a regular basis, nominally, the last decision will be made by Zoran Milanovic himself.
When this happens, Milanovic will pose two questions: how good solution Bernardic really is for the city of Zagreb and how good solution he is for me?
For Zoran Milanovic Davor Bernardic will always present more of a threat then a great support. Ever since Davor Butkovic mentioned in Jutarnji list's article (the way Butkovic only knows) that Bernardic is bragging to his friends he will make an onslaught upon Milanovic's position, there was a sudden enlightenment at Ibler's square. And when Davor Bernardic wanted to tear down the city budget for Zagreb against explicit demands of Zoran Milanovic, furthermore, when Bernardic placed public humiliation on his colleagues who had submitted to demands of their boss, the alarm was turned on. Zagreb's SDP members say that they had never seen Zoran Milanovic so much furious and loud the way he was at the end of that day when he reprimanded his younger colleague for a disobedience. That happened in front of the entire party committee.
Even Tomislav Saucha, the head of Zoran Milanovic's cabinet, the parliamentary spokesman Boris Sprem and the minister of labor and social care Mirando Mrsic cherish a significant aversion towards Bernardic. Sprem and Mrsic had a personal aspiration for Stjepan Radic's square, but ''one bird'' in the state authority was more tempting than ''two birds'' in the city administration. However, their repulsion of their own ambitions within the city authority doesn't mean they have become fond of Bernardic somehow. As a matter of fact, every information coming from their circles say that they are equally devoted to finding a new candidate for the Mayor, like they are devoted to their work on alterations of parliamentary officials and the reform of a pension system. Saucha, however, hardly forgets Bernardic's aggressive lobbying during the last inner party elections. Saucha called it a party engineering. Due to such lobbying or engineering some of people close to Saucha didn't reach desired positions.
So, in a close circle of Zoran Milanovic, Davor Bernardic can put a lot of effort and still won't be able to find a person who would have a word of praise for him in front of the prime minister. On the other hand, in a close circle of the prime minister there are also people who spread words about Davor Bernardic being Bandic's hireling, or financed by the mafia, or rated as a serial fraud at Zagreb University. If Zoran Milanovic shares even a bit of such opinion, Bernardic doesn't have a bright future.
But Davor Bernardic is also aware of the situation. That's why he was so aggressive to submit the candidature for Zagreb Mayor while his other party opponents were still trying to get sober from the campaign they had during the last elections in December. For Bernardic and his associates the next inner party elections mean the matter of existence. Their estimation is that Zoran Milanovic won't dare to oppose the opinion of the city party headquarters, especially if the headquarters would be more numerous and louder than they are now.
Bernardic can benefit from the fact that he doesn't have any rivals within the party. No one else expressed such ambitions, except him. That's why his team is most afraid of one man who isn't a party member.
Josip Kregar is the current most serious rival to Milan Bandic for Zagreb’s Mayor. That’s what every survey on political popularity implemented within Zagreb citizens from the last local elections shows. Bernardic is usually the third on the list. And this surveys are the main argument for all Bernardic's inner party enemies who are trying any way they can to persuade the popular professor from Zagreb's law school to become a member of SDP.
Kregar is still the main candidate for the new Mayor, and having SDP standing behind him, his victory is practically ensured. This is what Bernardic' opposition in SDP realizes and it is hard to deny this statement.
According to his political ID, Josip Kregar is a left-oriented politician and, ideologically seen, getting a SDP's member ID is a natural course of his political path. But although Kregar is close to SDP on ideological matter, he isn't close to this party in person. Kregar isn't popular in Zagreb due to his political orientation but for the fact that he isn’t a member of any political party. Except that, due to unpopular measures SDP will have to pull off on the state level, we should expect their popularity to fall down. And that will reflect the results of local election. And Kregar is aware that running for Zagreb mayor as SDP's candidate now, sounds more tempting than it will be in a year.
And that's why Kregar spends months to resists persuasion of Sprem, Mrsic, and even Marko Rakar who would like lead Kregar's campaign to the very triumph. Kregar knows that he can count on Rakar and even outside of SDP. And he knows he will get secret votes from Sprem, Mrsic and from many other SDP members (it wouldn't be the first time for SDP members to give support to one candidate in public and then secretly vote for someone else). If he ends as SDP's candidate eventually, than there is a possibility that Kregar will become the new Drazen Budisa. A big part of city board that gives a support to Bernardic now, would enter the local campaign with his fingers secretly crossed in their pockets and Kregar would suddenly end as a candidate with full pivot of saboteurs (for the joy of Milan Bandic who would know how to use such situation).
There are small chances for Kregar to join SDP for every reason mentioned above, although those chances aren't completely denied since he wouldn't state it in an explicit way. He is probably amused with panic reactions coming from Bernardic's team every time when someone mentions Kregar's name and SDP party in a same sentence. But Kregar has nothing more to look for in SDP except being Bernardic's ''boogeyman''.
Berrnardic gets no threats for now, except Kregar, and his people can keep calm despite obvious aversion coming from Ibler's square.
However, the president of Zagreb's branch of HNS Dragan Kovacevic got involved in the situation recently. He offered to SDP a coalition for the local elections, and as mutual Kukuriku candidate along with Bernardic, he proposed himself as an alternative. But it seems that the new president of JANAF's administration only wanted to remind he hasn't left the town. Chances for him to win the candidature for Zagreb mayor are even less than chances for the author of this article. Because the author of this article would rather join SDP (which is unimaginable) than the biggest Zagreb party will propose a smaller collation partner for its candidate. Not to mention Kovacecic being a former member of SDP, who left SDP after running for a candidate against Zoran Milanovic.
Dragan Kovacevic knows it, but he finds it amusing to easily scare Bernardic out from a shadow. He saw Kregar doing it, so he wanted to do it as well. And Bernardic still pays a prize of inner party imputations. While he is concentrated on keeping SDP's candidature, he doesn't realize that this won't be enough to become the Mayor of Zagreb. It would be probably enough, if he made a success when fighting for a pre-term elections. But time isn't on his side anymore. While time passes, Bernardic only can strengthen up his unofficial status of SDP's candidate while it hinders his opponents to find a decent alternative. However, considering Zagreb, the time isn't on SDP's side or the side of SDP's candidates anymore. In May 2013 it won't be enough to run as a SDP member in order to become the Mayor. It would turn out to be an aggravating circumstance.
There are more and more problems in the capital city. There are problems in its administration and it becomes a place of the expensive way of life. The main culprit for such situation is SDP who has ruled this city for 12 years. Although most of SDP members will try to attach sins for that to Milan Bandic, it is difficult to believe that these tactics will be accepted by the citizens of Zagreb. Zagreb SDP members have no more golden excuse that the state authority is guilty for every bad thing. In May 2013 they will be the state, and people will experience a difficult life in the State and in Zagreb itself. Someone has to pay the price. And someone has to be a culprit.
Davor Bernardic is successfully fighting to be the one. And while he is fighting, he can expect Zoran Milanovic to give him a sincere support.