The largest opposition party in Croatian Parliament, the Social Democrats or SDP, held intra-party elections today. The SDP has some 32 000 registered members, however, only roughly 12 000 delegates were allowed to vote, as the rest have not paid up their party dues.
SDP delegates voted on a new party leadership, including a new party president to replace Davor Bernardić who resigned following the SDP's decisive loss at the last parliamentary elections in July. The polling stations officially closed at 6PM, however, the first official results aren't expected until tomorrow.
There are five candidates running for the post of party president, SDP vice-president and longtime MP Peđa Grbin was the first to announce his candidacy. He is viewed by some as one of the favorites to replace Bernardić. With a 24 hour campaigning moratorium in effect, Grbin had this to say ahead of the vote this morning: „I once again want to call on all SDP members to take advantage of their right to vote, and to get out and vote today, and to vote their conscience, to vote for the candidate they think is the best.“
One of his opponents is SDP MP Mirela Ahmetović: „I believe that through my program I offered some very concrete measures, both in terms of fixing the situation within the party from an organizational standpoint, but also in terms of bringing the SDP back to the common man.“
Also running is Marino Percan: „First of all I expect communication between the party bodies to be re-established, that we begin to cooperate again and get closer to the people in the field again.“
The SDP's Krapina-Zagorje County Prefect Željko Kolar is also looking to lead the party in the coming years: „Instead of conflict we need cooperation, a clear policy and to deal with the problems facing citizens and not our internal problems.“
The last to join the race was long-time SDP MP and former Interior Minister, Ranko Ostojić: „I expect that a blend of youth and experience, and everything else that is still present in the SDP, spirit, will and spite, that all of this will bear fruit and get the SDP back on the winning side.“
The party's interim president, who assumed the reigns after Bernardić's resignation, Zlatko Komadina, had this to say about the role of the SDP on the Croatian political scene: „Croatia needs a strong SDP, it needs social democracy for people who live off of their labour, because that is the segment of our population that we represent.“
In the likely event that no one candidate receives more than fifty percent of the vote today, then a second round run-off election between the two candidates who secure the most votes will be held in one week's time.
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