Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenkovic stated that there was a great difference between the HDZ and its main rival, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), at a news conference on Sunday when he gave an overview of his party's activities in the first half of the campaigning in the run-up to the early parliamentary polls, set for 11 September.
"We are completely different, as you can see in this campaigning. Our campaign is focused on our programme, constructive ideas and solutions to issues bothering Croatian citizens, and their (SDP) campaign is negative, aggressive, and mudslinging," Plenkovic said at the news conference in the headquarters of the HDZ whose helm he took over six weeks ago.
Plenkovic recalled that the SDP "have lost five elections" and therefore he called on SDP leaders to think carefully if "their story is convincing to Croatian voters".
He also again ruled out any possibility of a grand coalition between the HDZ and the SDP in the event that the snap election resulted in a hung parliament.
Plenkovic, however, seemed more inclined to a post-election coalition with the Bridge reformist party that came in as third in the last parliamentary election and that was a junior partner in the HDZ-led outgoing government.
"I remain open to post-election cooperation with all parties that are close to us in programmes and ideologically, and this refers to the Bridge. However, being the HDZ leader, I will not concede to blackmail from any political party or option."
"Croatia needs a stable government and not one more election. It needs an efficient government," Plenkovic said in that context.
Asked for a comment on the Economist's article "Pining for Partizans" in which this British weekly newspaper claims that Croatian politicians stick to the past and that "one reason to stick to the past (in Croatia) may be the two parties’ (SDP and HDZ) dreary records in the present,", Plenkovic responded that this article also noted that the HDZ had now a new leader whom it described as moderate.
The Economist portrays Plenkovic, the HDZ new leader, as "a moderate member of the European Parliament."
"He (Plenkovic) wants to wrench his party back to the centre, and says he deplores the populism that is sweeping Europe," the newspaper writes, recalling that the HDZ had jettisoned its former leader Tomislav Karamako, "who had allowed the party’s Ustasha-admiring elements to the fore."
In his comment, Plenkovic also said that the next time when Economist journalists came to Croatia and asked for an interview with him, he would be willing to explain them where the HDZ was positioned in 2016 and its priorities.