By Marija Avramovic – Zagreb
The latest scandal that has been shaking the croatian political scene for weeks has led to a situation where many members of the ruling SDP (Social Democratic Party) are being forced to choose between Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and former Minister of Finance Slavko Linic, in addition to having to answer to the question whether this government will endure until the end of it’s mandate or Croatia is looking at new elections.
Last week over half a million people directly watched Linic’s press conference on television, according to the data of the Croatian media and it launched an avalanche of questions not so pleasant for the Croatian government, and especially its Prime Minister.
Linic’s allegations are serious and severe, in that all agree and the consequences could be disastrous for the SDP and coalition government, which consists of SDP and HNS (Croatian People’s Party).
On Sunday, Prime Minister Milanovic visited the flooded areas in Slavonia and commented on the Linic issue and the very serious allegations against him regarding illegal spying and eavesdropping. Instead of a concrete answer to Linic’s charges on the illegal wiretapping, Milanovic apologized to the public.
“I have already said that for me, this alleged case, is closed. It is already becoming an intra-party thing and I think that the Croatian public doesn’t need to be obsessed or harassed by this and I am sorry that people have to listen”, said Milanovic.
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, at his own request, received the report from the Security Intelligence Agency (SOA), which reportedly stated that the service did not apply any measures to Linic. But the head of state does not want to confirm or deny and in a statement for TV Novasaid he said that “when the process is complete, the public will know everything”.
The President has requested a double check on Linic’s allegations that the Prime Minister abused the secret service for his mistreatment.
Josipovic, also a member of SDP, does not want to prejudge the winner of duel between Linic and Milanovic and he also expressed concern about the whole case.
“The crisis in the party must not turn into a crisis of authority. As president, I insist that the state must function independently of intra-party relationships. The country should not suffer because of them”, Josipovic stated.
“Linic should no longer be in the party” said the Minister of Internal Affairs and Vice President of SDP, Ranko Ostojic, while visiting the very popular show “Sunday at 2” at HRT (Croatian radio and television), the first such initiative in the party openly expressing the opinion that Linic should be crossed off from SDP. Ostojicalso said that Linic has in no way proven his allegations and pointed out that there is no truth to the assertion that someone is abusing the state services.
For the president of SDP, the Linic case is an intra-party thing. But it it is so much more than that. The issue is the functioning of the government at a time when the crisis is not slowing down. Zero results, and continuous eruption of scandals and stories of how the Prime Minister does not communicate with his ministers. All these cause dissatisfaction towards SDP to such a extend, that the party, apart from the debate on Linic’s future in it, may also opt to open the issue of Milanovic’s future as well.