Croatian lawmakers are back at work after the summer break. The Sabor opened its fall session today and it looks like it will be a busy one, with 170 items on the agenda.
The tone was heated right from the start as the prime minister and his cabinet faced questions from MPs during the Q&A period.
“Tell the truth for once! You gave the counties something to do to justify their number and their existence. You gave them power to appease your base. That's clear as day. Out of one administrative unit, you created 21. I'd like to know who is going to defend equality and uniform practices. You've created 20 new potential hotspots for corruption,” said Božo Petrov of Most attacking the Prime Minister over the new regional re-districting system.
The Social Democrats also accused the government of corruption.
“Even Sanader's government seems benign in comparison to yours when it comes to suspected corruption. Your fear of losing your position is so great that you are willing to do anything - arrest journalists, barge into newsrooms, and pressure independent institutions like the Conflict of Interest Commission, even the Constitutional Court. That's why we insist on passing anti-corruption legislation. So, that we many never have another government like yours,” said SDP leader Davor Bernardić.
The PM argued that things were not as hopeless as the SDP would like it to appear.
“During our mandate - a time you claim corruption is rampant, everything is terrible, never been worse - employment is rising, salaries are rising, pensions and social benefits are rising, the GDP is growing, exports are up, and investments are up. I believe, as does the majority of our citizens and all of our partners, that we have charted the right course for Croatia,” Plenković said.
SDP MP Željko Jovanović addressed the recent arrest of an Index.hr journalist, demanding the government protect media freedoms. He also spoke about the government’s refusal to hand over documents to the Conflict of Interest Commission which is looking into several complaints involving the PM.
When will you make sure the press is free and prevent the intimidation of reporters who uncover scandals that your ministers are involved in? And why are you trying to obstruct the work of the Conflict of Interest Commission?" Jovanović asked.
The Prime Minister argued that the government was in the right in their dispute with the Conflict of Interest Commission.
“The Commission has a certain jurisdiction. We all have a certain authority that is defined by different laws. If the commission asks you something and you send a thorough, well-argued response that should be enough for someone with government experience to draw a logical conclusion, then I would say that is respectful. Our authority should also be respected,” he argued.
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