The HSLS, a junior partner in the HDZ-led coalition government, elected a new party leadership at a party convention held in Zagreb on Saturday.
The new HSLS Party Chairman is Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak. After beating his only opponent for the post, Žarko Katić, Hrebak announced a change in direction for the liberal party. "I think that politics in Croatia lack content, concrete things, everything citizens expect of us. It is time to return to this and I expect the HSLS to assume the position of a centrist-liberal party in Croatia that will promote these positions. The HSLS needs to firmly address these issues: meaning less bureaucracy, less taxes, less populism, more freedom, more responsibility and more concrete content," Hrebak said after winning the party chairmanship.
For his part Katić emphasized that the party needs to maintain its independence and run at national elections alone. "When they ask me SDP or HDZ I always respond: The HSLS on its own path. Croatia needs a strong party that can run alone and win mandates on its own. Croatia does not need a liberal party that will serve as nothing more than an appendage for the left or the right."
Hrebak’s election marks the end of Darinko Kosor's ten year leadership of the party. "The HSLS will, just as when I became party chairman ten years ago, endeavor to run alone at the polls, and if it does join a coalition, it will do so with parties akin to our own, meaning liberal parties. That is what I expect of the new party leadership." Kosor will remain active in the party, retaining the HSLS's only seat in parliament.