Leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SDP)-led People's Coalition presented their election platform in Samobor, just west of Zagreb, on Monday, saying that their main objective was to raise the employment rate to 66.2 percent and reduce unemployment to the EU average.
SDP leader Zoran Milanovic said that one of their key goals was to reduce the tax burden on labour, recalling that his previous government had introduced various tax reliefs to boost consumption.
Milanovic was critical of the Croatian Democratic Union's (HDZ) promise to cut Value Added Tax. "They should say how they are going to do that without jeopardising the structure," he said, warning that VAT revenues were used to cover welfare benefits.
He said that the People's Coalition too was considering a VAT reduction, but by reducing taxes on labour and strengthening employment measures, especially for young people and those above the age of 50.
Milanovic said that tax policy was one of the topics that should be debated by the two largest parties -- the SDP and the HDZ.
Milanovic said that his government had been clean. "The new one will be even cleaner, and the alternative is disorder, instability and insecurity," he said, recalling that the outgoing Oreskovic government was the first one to fail to get a loan abroad because of instability.
Speaking of the pension system, Milanovic said that the People's Coalition did not intend to experiment in that area. "There will be no experiments, we have seen experiments being made over the last six months. We will not put the status of pensioners and pensions at risk," he said, announcing the introduction of pensions for farmers. He noted that this coalition would not strictly follow orders from Brussels in this regard.
Milanovic accused the Oreskovic government of trying to halt the education reform "out of sheer malice" and added that the people who had worked on the education strategy would continue their work.
He also criticised the outgoing government for making political decisions in the health sector in order to strengthen the status of private companies at the expense of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO). "We are not stifling private initiative, but we won't be encouraging it by artificially creating competition to the HZZO."
Milanovic once again invited the HDZ to a TV debate, even before the official start of the election campaign.
Croatian People's Party (HNS) leader Ivan Vrdoljak said that the focus of all policies should be on increasing wages. "There are regions where the priority is to increase employment, but there are also those where the priority is to increase wages. Account should be taken of both," he said.
Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Kreso Beljak said that the HSS was not a farmers' union and its focus was not only on agriculture but primarily on rural development. He said that every village in Croatia should provide core services, such as school, postal service, an outpatient facility and municipal administration. "Those who are talking about abolishing municipalities don't know what they are talking about," he said.
Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) leader Silvano Hrelja criticised the outgoing government for trying to increase the cost of voluntary health insurance.