Orsat Miljenić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ /ds

A debate ahead of the November 8 parliamentary elections organised by Nova TV on Friday hosted Orsat Miljenic of the "Croatia is Growing" coalition, Zeljko Reiner of the Patriotic Coalition, Drago Prgomet of the Most (Bridge) platform of independent candidates, Mirela Holy of the ORaH green party, Ivan Vilibor Sincic of the Human Barrier party, and Slobodan Prosperov Novak of the Bandic Milan 365 party.

Asked which reform they would carry out first if given the opportunity to form the new government, Miljenic said that his coalition would implement a tax reform and reduce para-fiscal levies, as well as reform public administration and education.

Reiner said that one should start with reforming the economic system and creating a favourable investment climate, notably for small businesses and family-run farms. Agriculture should be revived and there is a set of measures to achieve taht. A reform of public administration is necessary but that should not be done with lay-offs but by making it more efficient, Reiner said, adding that measures should also be introduced immediately to boost the birth rate.

Prgomet said that a reform of public administration and the country's territorial structure was a precondition of economic recovery. Public administration needs to be depoliticised and all public administration employees should be selected through a public selection process, with only the prime minister and ministers being office-holders. Local administration should be reduced by one-third, said Prgomet.

Holy, too, supported a reform of public administration and of the country's territorial structure, calling for the abolishment of counties and establishment of five regions. We also advocate the reduction of the local administration to 50 towns and 150 municipalities, said Holy.

Sincic believes that the first reform should be a reform of the monetary system, saying that interest rates in Croatia are extremely high and that the country is in debt bondage owing to the existing system established in the 1990s by the HDZ and the SDP.

Prosperov Novak said that the first move of Bandic's party would be made at the election because citizens would show that "they do not support the mentalities that have masked themselves as political parties and devour one another." He said that his party was not a third way but the first and only way.

The next question referred to VAT reduction and an increase in non-taxable income, to which Reiner said that the Patriotic Coalition planned to reduce the current, 25% VAT rate, to 23% by the middle of the term and to 20% by its end.

Prgomet said that there was no room for VAT cuts and that the German IFO institute too had recommended that this should not be done, which he said was why the non-taxable part of income should be increased instead.

Holy believes that a radical tax reform should be carried out and that the tax burden on labour should be reduced and capital should be taxed. Before changing the VAT rate, an analysis is required so as to prevent a tax imbalance, she said.

The Human Barrier is in favour of reducing the VAT rate, introducing a 10% profit tax and reducing contributions and parafiscal levies, while Prosperov Novak called for a gradual reduction of the VAT rate and a balanced budget.

Miljenic said the coalition "Croatia is Growing" would first cut para-fiscal levies and reduce the burden on income, which he said had already partly been done, resulting in higher salaries that enabled citizens to spend more. The European Commission has recommended that the VAT rate should not be reduced, but we intend to reduce it for specific products so as to boost production and consumption, he said.

A possible legal ban on abortion was opposed strongly by Holy, who said that women should have the right to decide because abortion was done out of necessity.

Prgomet, too, was against a ban on abortion, noting that women should be told that abortion was not a form of contraception.

Unlike other participants in the debate, Reiner said that the Patriotic Coalition, as a Christian Democratic coalition, supported life from natural birth to natural death. Abortion harms a woman's body and leaves lasting consequences. It is not a form of contraception and should not be a way to plan a family, he added.

Holy then insisted that Reiner state if he was in favour of banning abortion, to which he only said that abortion should not be allowed "to whoever and whenever someone felt like it" because it was harmful to women.

Related stories

Latest news

Serbia's EU negotiator says minority rights neglected

The head of the Serbia's European Union accession negotiation team, Tanja Miscevic, said in Novi Sad on Wednesday that minority rights had been neglected for many years and added that positive results in that regard cannot be achieved over night, the Beta news agency has reported. 

Scientists: Nearby star's 7 rocky planets are "best bet" for life

New analysis of telescope data shows a dwarf star just 40 light years from Earth has at least seven apparently rocky planets with potential to harbour water, an international team of scientists announced Wednesday.

Croatian PM receives EIB Vice-President

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic met on Wednesday with European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Dario Scannapieco for talks on the bank's contribution to a new investment cycle in Croatia and its support to the Croatian government to implement key projects, a press release from the government's office said.

Bomb explodes outside police officer's home in Northern Ireland

A bomb exploded outside a police officer's home in Northern Ireland on Wednesday but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Denmark to charge man with blasphemy over burning Koran

Danish prosecutors said Wednesday they have opened a rare blasphemy case against a man who videotaped himself burning a copy of the Koran.

South Africa to raise taxes for the wealthiest

South Africa will raise the income tax rate for the country's wealthiest to 45 per cent from 41 per cent, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced Wednesday.

Reformist Macron wins support of key centrist leader for French vote

France's reformist presidential hopeful, Emmanuel Macron, got a boost on Wednesday when he picked up the support of a party leader whose centrist constituency played a pivotal role in the last two presidential elections.

Amnesty International warns of nationalist rhetoric and hate speech in Croatia

Croatia continues to have problems with discrimination against ethnic minorities and with freedom of the media, while heightened nationalist rhetoric and hate speech during election time contributed to growing ethnic intolerance and insecurity in the country, global human rights watchdog Amnesty International said in its annual report on the state of human rights in the world in 2016/2017.

Official assigned to Wilders' security team held by Dutch police

A security official assigned to protect Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders is being held by police on suspicion of passing along classified information about the lawmaker to a Dutch-Moroccan crime gang.

100th anniversary of rescuing starving children marked

A special ceremony was held in Zagreb's Croatian National Theatre on Wednesday to mark the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest humanitarian undertakings in the history of the Croatian people which saved children in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from famine in the last two years of World War I.

Italy's 'Red Thing' could make impact in election debut, polls show

Two polls conducted for RAI public broadcaster released Wednesday showed a new entity that split from Italy's ruling Democratic Party

Council: Nixing grants to "Novosti" would cause far-reaching implications

The Council for National Minorities, a state-level autonomous umbrella organisation for all ethnic minorities in Croatia, has stated that the cancellation of financial grants to the "Novosti", a newspaper of the ethnic Serb minority, would produce far-reaching implications and stir criticism for reduction of free speech and of freedom of expression of the most numerous ethnic minority.