Plenković and the parliamentary majority are endangering liberal democracy and the rule of law in Croatia

07. February 2024.
Plenković and the parliamentary majority are endangering liberal democracy and the rule of law in Croatia 1
photo: HINA

By appointing Ivan Turudić as the head of the State Attorney's Office (DORH), Andrej Plenković has continued the capture of independent institutions, a practice he has been persistently engaged in since the beginning of his term. The longer the HDZ and Plenković are in power, the weaker the rule of law and liberal democracy in Croatia become. The politician who wanted to change HDZ has not only failed to change his party but has also regressed the achieved standards of the rule of law in Croatia.

Instead of an independent and impartial person, the Chief State Attorney Turudić is close to HDZ, befriends defendants involved in the State Prosecutor's Office for the Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption (USKOK) cases by leaking investigation details to them and claims certain judges as "his own," which is an red flag of the state of the judiciary. The State Attorney's Office should protect the interests of the Republic of Croatia, but how is this possible if its head is a compromised individual, appointed to make yet another independent institution a hostage of Andrej Plenković's government?

Reduced in expression

Recent sociological and political research analyzing trust in institutions continuously shows that the judiciary, along with political parties, is the institution in which Croatian citizens have the least trust. How to build that trust when a person who repeatedly does not tell the truth in public is appointed as the new state attorney? That is, someone reduced in expression.

By arguing that the published messages about Ivan Turudić's actions are not in the public interest, Plenković demonstrates how far he has moved away from democratic standards, considering it his exclusive right to determine what is in the public interest, endangering acquired freedoms and rights.

Gong has been warning for years that Plenković's government is moving away from the standards that Croatia adopted upon joining the European Union. During his mandate, the Commission for the Prevention of Conflicts of Interest has been significantly weakened, and its president, who questioned the prime minister's conflict of interest, was denied a new term. The Commissioner for Information, appointed as a "fig leaf" for the Justice Minister to hide the real authors of the Law on Constituencies, served the minister's purposes.

Lex AP and the corrupt-clientelist network

This important electoral law was prepared exclusively in the HDZ party kitchen, without the involvement of experts, civil society, and the opposition. Poor and illogical constituencies were tailored to suit the ruling party, based on an unreliable voter register, undermining citizens' trust in elections and likely weakening already low participation.

Without confirmation in parliament, taking powers that do not belong to the Government, by a mere regulation he restricted human rights and closed St. Mark's Square, with the blessing of the majority of Constitutional Court judges. He wants to silence the media and their sources with Lex AP, especially after they published messages that expose the corrupt-clientelist network at the top of the government.

If they want to live in a better country, Croatian citizens must realize that a big part of the responsibility lies with them – changes are only possible if a significant portion of the citizens becomes politically active.