Can Plenković bring renewal to Croatia?
Croatia's parliament has confirmed the leader of the conservative HDZ Andrej Plenković as the new prime minister. The HDZ party will govern the country in a coalition with the reform party Most. Plenković has pledged to strengthen political stability, economic growth and the rule of law in Croatia. Journalists are not convinced that he will be able to deliver on his promises.
Big hopes can only be dashed
Now Plenković must make good on his campaign pledges, but that will be no easy task, Delo warns:
“He and his 19 ministers have their work cut out for them. Plenković and his team will have to tackle corruption and a number of failed projects and debts that are taking a heavy toll on the budget. … In the coming year alone, Croatia must pay off over three billion euros in accumulated debt. And ultimately all of this plus the mounting discontent of the citizens is only a fraction of the problem facing Plenković and his team. … It seems the new Croatian government is all too unaware of what a task it has taken on by promising so much. Exaggerated expectations tend to be followed by disappointment.”
Right goals - wrong approach
Plenković's policy goals are good but he is deploying the wrong measures to achieve them, Novi list warns:
“It is good to hear that the new government's programme focusses on stable growth, the creation of jobs and strengthening social solidarity. This is the only way to improve living conditions and stop young people from leaving the country. But it wants to achieve these goals with measures that have never actually worked. So it will continue to push through budgetary consolidation and tax reforms to drive down the cost of labour. In recent decades this neoliberal path has forced the economy and the people of the world into the service of international capital - in Croatia, the EU and America. Which is precisely why we end up with people like Donald Trump and illiberal democracies like those in Poland and Hungary.”
This man can free the HDZ from the past
Plenković is already the most popular politician in the country. He will change his party, Delo believes:
“Plenković's intention of changing the policies of the HDZ, which until yesterday still had close ties with the far right and which based its success on seeking refuge in the past, is by no means insignificant. Moreover, he has clearly managed to convince a large number of his party's members that the HDZ must become a modern European, Christian democratic party rather than remaining embittered and trapped in the past. And Plenković is free of shadows and the allegations of corruption, clientelism and other transgressions that continually dogged his predecessors.”
Plenković must keep the right happy
Večernji list doubts that everything will change under Plenković:
“Plenković has enough leeway to form a government that will be acceptable to the majority of Croatians but which will also satisfy those who helped to get him elected: the voters on the right. It's only logical that the majority of ministers will follow his moderate right-wing stance. Nevertheless it would be fatal for him to neglect those on the right who play a major role not only in the HDZ but also in society. Very sensibly, this right is not demanding that Plenković keep the current Minister of Culture Zlatko Hasanbegović. But it is demanding the appointment of some ministers who staunchly represent conservative and right-wing points of view.”