Social Democratic Party  (SDP) Vice President Zlatko Komadina on Monday confirmed that he would run as candidate for the party's president at the election set for March 12 and that he intended to reinstate members who had been expelled from the party.

"I  confirm that I will announce my candidacy when the Main Committee calls the election," Komadina said after a meeting of the party's presidency which unanimously decided on the election date for the party's leader.

The main committee is scheduled to convene on January 23.

Komadina is optimistic and believes that he has a good chance of becoming the SDP's new president and expects the support of younger party members, women and middle-aged men.

Asked whether he would face his rival, incumbent party leader Zoran Milanovic, in a public debate, Komadina said that this was an internal party election and candidates appealed to party members. "By my judgement this is an internal party election and we appeal to members. I know that it is important who will be the future president of SDP and the public has a right to know, but I do not support the idea of making a show of internal matters. Nevertheless, I am ready for anything," he said.

His campaign slogan will be a new, better and stronger SDP, "an SDP in which members participate and members make the decisions at all levels, not an autocratic rule, no Machiavellism. To the left and not liberal or neo-liberal," he said.

Asked whether Milanovic was heading the party autocratically, Komadina said: "Absolutely. The Statute is centralist. It has to be changed and the party has to be decentralised. People in the field have to be consulted and propose policies. The SDP needs a new Statute and a well, redesigned programme. It has to be socially sensitive and democratic."

He confirmed that he would reinstate expelled party members like Slavko Linic and Aleksandra Kolaric. "It would be normal to declare an amnesty. Whoever wants to return to the organisation can and has a right to. SDP has to attract and not disperse. We have to open up a dialogue, attract free-minded people, open topics up to the public, from the unions and working population. The times are tough, neo-liberalism in Europe and the world, but we must not give up," Komadina added.

Asked whether he expected anyone else to run for president apart from himself and Milanovic, he said that his "intuition tells him there will only be two." "There would have been two even if the SDP were to have formed the government," he added.

Senior party officials of the SDP's Zagreb branch,  Rajko Ostojic and Davor Bernardic, support Komadina's candidacy. "Unfortunately at the meeting of the presidency we did not get a report or analysis of the parliamentary election nor any deep analytical tables. The result of the parliamentary election is crystal clear. In four years we managed to bring the HDZ into government and the president's office. Naturally, there were some good things but there were also some big mistakes. And what is left now. The dilemma is absolutely clear - to either continue on this path or stimulate changes. I support Zlatko Komadina and that is absolutely clear," Ostojic said.

On the other hand, Bernardic said that political parties learn from their victories and defeats. "We have to be aware that we lost at this election. We won 30% fewer seats and lost 150,000 votes. The SDP needs changes. Zlatko Komadina is a man from the field, a man who won at the local election and who can instigate changes from the ground level and gather the SDP's divided left and ensure its return to government in the shortest possible time.  There is room in the SDP for all and the incumbent president Zoran Milanovic, but there isn't (room) for policies like 'us or them'", Bernardic said.

The head of the SDP's Main Committee Josip Leko did not attend today's meeting and excused himself due to illness.

Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.