The leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP), Zoran Milanovic, said on Friday that based on what he knew about Andrej Plenkovic, a candidate for president of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), he was a person more suitable for the SDP's liberal camp than for the HDZ, but noted that it was up to the HDZ to decide on its leader.
"I wish the HDZ to elect their president in a democratic way. They have started doing it in line with the 'one member, one vote' principle', they have copied it from us and I consider it my personal contribution to Croatia's democracy... I know some of those candidates, I have known Mr Plenkovic for years and to be honest, based on what I know about him, he is more suitable for the SDP's liberal camp. I don't know what he is doing in the HDZ, but that's their business," Milanovic told reporters outside his party's offices when asked which of the candidates for HDZ president he considered the most dangerous opponent.
Milanovic also commented on HDZ deputy leader Milijan Brkic's statement that after it elected its new leader, the HDZ would prevent the "restoration of the SDP's tyranny."
"Over the past nine years I have seen three HDZ leaders off. It was not me who sacked them, they came and went. (Ivo) Sanader was there before I became (SDP) leader, and after him two left," he said, adding that he did not find any personal gratification in that.
"My ambition is to lead my party for a while, (the SDP) is a big Croatian party, a patriotic party and a party of order. There was no and will be no tyranny and neither am I accusing the HDZ of tyranny, but I do accuse it of incompetence and harmful conduct."
He said that the person to be elected HDZ president would have problem cooperating with the team formed by Tomislav Karamarko, especially if they wanted to make the HDZ a modern, right-of-the-centre party.
"(Franjo) Tudjman built the HDZ on the ideas of (Ante) Starcevic, (Stjepan) Radic and on anti-fascism, that is, on the movement led by Josip Broz Tito. I can't see there any elements of Christian democracy, but if the HDZ wants it that way, it is entirely legitimate and may they be like the German Christian Democrats," said the SDP chief.
Asked if he was willing to participate in a face-to-face debate with the new HDZ leader, Milanovic said: "Always, if that will help people make a better decision, but I think people know which decision is better - the people's government that was leading Croatia on the path of growth. The past six months have been an ugly intermezzo. Let's work and let's claim new victories."
Milanovic also said that the SDP was reassembling the coalition with which it participated in the November 2015 parliamentary election.
"Maybe we will expand it a bit, it will be a progressive, people's coalition for a people's government, not for tyranny. We did not take revenge on anyone, we are not thinking about it at all, but we are thinking about how to improve the credit rating they have brought us down to, to make it possible for the country, if it has to borrow, to borrow and issue its bonds under conditions that were in force during our term in office, of 3% and less, instead of 5%. They have caused a lot of damage, but there is time to reverse the situation and move on," said Milanovic.