JUNE 5 2009 14:14h
While city reps can demand a referendum to oust the mayor, which is very difficult, the mayor has most authority over the Assembly.
ZAGREB, CROATIA – Even though the mayor, according to the set of amended laws on local (regional) self-government, can no longer make any decision about a project that exceeds a million kuna and this power has been transferred over to the representative body, in this case the Zagreb City Assembly, the general view of local sheriffs that will become just local figures is not completely correct.
The first and best example for that is the powerlessness of the City Assembly in its attempt to oust the current mayor, while at the same time, the authorities of Mayor Milan Bandic are such that, with the help of Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, he could dissolve the City Assembly.
If Mayor Milan Bandic, as the only person proposing the city budget assesses that city representatives could veto its adoption or completely rearrange it with amendments, he can withdraw the budget from the procedure. If the city budget is not adopted by December 15, which is the legal deadline, then Prime Minister Ivo Sanader on behalf of the government would have to pass a temporary city budget and would have to issue new elections for the City Assembly.
This is one of the possible scenarios that could happen in this mandate of the City Assembly, as was explained to us by the former City Government secretary, Vidoje Bulum.
Ratio of power between Bandic and the Assembly is 80:20
The Law on Local (Regional) Self-Government was interpreted as decreasing the powers of municipal mayors, city mayors, county prefects and Zagreb City mayor, with an increase of powers of representative bodies. But, according to Bulum, after the harmonisation of the Statute of the City of Zagreb and the law, the ratio of power between Milan Bandic and the City Assembly will be 80:20 in favour of the mayor.
- We have a deadline of three months from the scheduling of the local elections to harmonise some three dozen laws with the City’s Statute. The City Government and the very name of head of a city office have been terminated and now we are in the Mayor’s Office. We are still working on decisions on organisation. According to the new law, the mayor can make all decisions about the city’s property, such as the transfer of land, but up to a million kuna worth. Everything above that value is decided on by the Assembly which also makes decision on general principles. All public procurement processes that are planned in the city budget do not have to pass through the Assembly because they were adopted by the adoption of the budget – Bulum explained.
Among the many vague examples in the law, Bulum set aside the ousting of the mayor. According to the set of amended laws adopted by the Croatian parliament, the mayor can be dismissed through a referendum which the majority of Assembly representatives have to support. If the constituting session is to take place on June 17, when the first session has bee scheduled, city representatives can request a referendum six months later.
- That is the prerogative of the representatives, it is questioning the function of mayor – Bulum stressed.
Dismissing the mayor through referendum – not easily done
More than 50 percent of voters have to take to the referendum to state whether the claims of representatives that the mayor is not doing his work properly are correct and half of the 50 percent of voters have to respond affirmatively in order for the mayor to be recalled. If the referendum is not adopted at the Assembly, or if it is scheduled and citizens do not want the mayor’s dismissal, everybody remains at their own functions. If the mayor is ousted by the referendum, new elections would be called, except in the case when it is the last year of his mandate. Then the deputy mayor would take his place.
However, taking into consideration that 50 percent of voters did not even turn out at the local elections, the chances of ousting Bandic with a referendum are pretty slim.
On the other hand, another possible scenario that could happen is calling new elections for the Assembly if the Assembly is not constituted on June 17, when the first session is scheduled. Taking into account the new rules, it is exceptionally important both for Milan Bandic as mayor and Zoran Milanovic as first on the Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) list of candidates for the Assembly, which won most seats, to form a coalition with as most reliable partners as possible, which explains the tensions between the central SDP and the city’s SDP. For lasting peace, coalition partners have to chose very carefully and peace can be brought only by partners that suit both Milanovic and Bandic.
Regarding former heads of offices which the mayor is succeeding, Bulum said that no mayor can dismiss people who have worked for the city because their mandates still have not expired. They can only leave by their own free will, by law or if there is a good and justified reason for their dismissal.
Public tender for five important functions in the City Administration next week
- When you win four times with the same team, would you change it? – Zagreb’s Mayor Milan Bandic replied early this week to question by reporters if he was intending to bring new people in the City Administration.
- If they change me, they will change the team. But that is for citizens to decide. As long as I have my health, I will work through my mandate, or part of it, with the same team – Bandic stressed.
But however he may be satisfied with the team so far, according to the former City Government secretary, a tender for four positions must be issued, including an additional one because the former head of the City Office for Education, Culture and Sports, Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic, has become Zagreb’s deputy mayor. The mayor decides on the conditions of the tender and the choices for the positions.
- The people appointed by the Assembly as members of the City Government, which are Slavko Kojic, Zvonimir Sostar, Davor Jelavic and Ladislav Prezigalo, tenders will be issued for their positions. This means the former city office for finances, city office for health, city office for urban development and the city office for economy – Bulum said, adding that the tenders will be issued next week.
Asked how the City Administration will function if there are no City Government sessions, that is, how will the public be informed about the mayor’s decisions, convinced in transparency, Bulum said that his supposition is that Bandic will call press conferences once a week at which he will present his decisions.