The government accepted only seven of the 217 amendments submitted by lawmakers to the budget bill. Finance Minister Zdravko Marić was the only minister to defend the budget bill in the Sabor, while the remaining ministries sent lower-ranking officials to do the job.
One of the few amendments that did win over the government was one submitted by People's Party defector Marijana Puh, now with Milan Bandić’s party, and two of her HDZ colleagues. This bill would allocate an additional 10 million kuna in funding for the development of the country's mountain regions.
Milan Bandić's amendment that would have added 250 million kuna to the budget to pay for school textbooks for all elementary school children did not pass. State Secretary for Education, Branka Ramljak, rejected the amendment, but did pledge that the government would try to find a way over the next year to finance the textbook measure.
As opposition amendments were rejected, one by one, Ivan Lovrinović of the Change Croatia party said the government didn't care about ordinary people.
"This is the cruel face of this government, which refuses to help its own people but is willing to stuff the pockets of bankers,” he said.
Živi zid MP Ivan Vilibor Sinčić said the entire exercise was futile, "We're being forced to do something that is doomed from the start."
In the same vein, the SDP's Arsen Bauk went a step further and submitted an amendment mocking President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović and her fondness for supporting Croatia at high-profile sporting events like the World Cup and the Davis Cup. He drafted an amendment to allocate an extra 20 thousand kuna to the President's Office for “cheering activities and props”.
"Our President's only successful foreign policy activity is cheering,” he told the chamber.
Needless to say, the amendment was rejected.
In what is likely the result of some major political bargaining, the People's Party, who are a junior member of the HDZ-led coalition, did not show up in the chamber to defend their amendment to the bill regulating foster care. This bill was fiercely debated on Thursday and had divided the ruling coalition. The People's Party had said it wanted the bill to include same-sex partners as potential foster care providers. Their failure to support their own amendment was met with strong criticism from the opposition.
SDP leader Davor Bernardić said the foster care bill clearly discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, adding that the SDP expected it to be struck down by the Constitutional Court or the European Court of Human Rights. Bernardić told a news conference that this kind of law sent a message to “civilized” Europe that Croatia was a country that condoned discrimination, a consequence, he said, of the government's bad policy on human rights and personal freedoms.
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