Zoran Milanović.JPG
Photograph: HINA/ Daniel KASAP / dk

Social Democratic Party (SDP) president and candidate for prime minister Zoran Milanovic said in Pula on Monday that the left-centre coalition had been given a chance twice to lead Croatia in difficult times of "economic and fiscal devastation, corruption and disorder," that "both times the mandate was finished with the country stabler, with more order, more recognised and worthier of its people," and that now it could have a third chance to continue leading the country to order.

Speaking at an election rally, Milanovic said 35% of voters voted for an SDP-led coalition at the last election, voting for modernity, openness, progressiveness, a modern Western state. Croatia is the West, not the Middle East, and it must build itself on the tenets of Western civilisation, he said.

"I don't despise the East, I like it, but that's not us. Our place is at the summit of the West," he said, adding that the new SDP-led coalition would fight for the preservation and affirmation of Croatia's freedom-loving spirit, minorities' rights, and the affirmation of anti-fascism, on which the Croatian state was created in World War II.

Milanovic went on to say that "no one must encroach upon the privacy of the family and women's right to choose... We must resist any attempt of going back to times when the rights of minorities and women were stamped out."

"We are tired of the conflict of ideologies and stories about ancient wars. We want to continue to lead the country forward based on knowledge and honest work," said Ivan Vrdoljak, president of the Croatian People's Party, a partner in the SDP-led People's Coalition.

Silvano Hrelja, president of the Croatian Pensioners Party, another partner in the coalition, said health care must be available to everyone and that there was no need to privatise it. "Our pensioners expect a stable government with a realistic programme which cares for its people. We can't promise things that aren't realistic, such as pensions amounting to 60% of the average wage, because that would require HRK 8 billion from the budget, which isn't possible in the near future."

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