The Vecernji List daily reported on Sunday that the Presidency of the ruling HDZ party planned to sanction any party members who use private messaging apps or social media to spread hatred, make threats or simply criticise the policies of the HDZ leadership and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.
Branko Bačić, the leader of the HDZ bloc in parliament, dismissed accusations that HDZ President Andrej Plenković was behind the idea to monitor members' use of social media and group chats: "t was the national council, which includes party presidents from the county level, who agreed, together with party members, to decide on such matters on a case by case basis to determine if there has been a violation of party policy. That being said, if individual party members violate party rules, obviously they will be sanctioned."
Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek, also spoke on the issue, saying the party supported free speech: "Of course we value pluralism and free thinking. Everyone has the right to their own opinion on a range of issues. At the same time, it's necessary to respect the rules set out by the party leadership, and people should behave accordingly.
Meanwhile, not all party members have welcomed the news. HDZ MP Davor Ivo Steir said that freedom and secrecy of correspondence were guaranteed by the constitution; adding that his colleagues had nothing to fear. He said that neither the state nor party authorities had the right to monitor the correspondence between citizens or the internal communication between party members.
Stier went on to say that stories being floated around that such monitoring will be introduced are damaging not only to the party but also to all citizens and to democracy in Croatia, because "democracy implies responsibility and freedom from political intimidation."
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