Former Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, who has pledged to make Croatia a tolerant country turning the page on its wartime past, has won Sunday’s presidential runoff, defeating the incumbent conservative leader.
Milanovic, the Social Democrat candidate, took 52.7 percent of the vote, while President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who had tried to unite a fractured right wing, garnered 47.3 percent, according to results based on a vote count at nearly all polling stations released by the electoral commission. The turnout was about 55 percent.
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The second-round election was held just days after Croatia took the helm of the European Union for a six-month period that will be dominated by Brexit and the bloc’s enlargement.
At the same time, the EU’s newest member is struggling with a mass exodus of its people, corruption and a lacklustre economy at home.
Grabar-Kitarovic campaigned on a slogan promoting “real Croatia”, hinting she believes the ruling conservative HDZ party that backed her was the only one who can truly represent the country.
Milanovic called such statements “very dangerous”, and advocated for a “normal Croatia” as a liberal democracy that promotes equality for all citizens.
“Four million of us … are looking for our place in Europe which is, despite all the problems, the nicest place to live, the most peaceful project in which Croatia must find its place and interest,” Milanovic told supporters in Zagreb after his victory.
‘United in differences’
“Let’s be united in [our] differences,” the 53-year-old said.
In the campaign, Milanovic stressed that the “wars are over”, referring to Croatia’s 1990s independence war that remains an emotive issue.
Despite her efforts, Grabar-Kitarovic, 51, the country’s first female president, failed to lure back hardliners who had voted for a nationalist folk singer in the presidential election’s first round in December.
She stressed unity, patriotism and references to the 1990s war in her re-election bid.
Conceding defeat on Sunday evening, Grabar-Kitarovic promised a “civilised transfer” of power to Milanovic.
She stressed that “Croatia needs stability” and unity as “we are the strongest when we are together”.
Analysts say that Milanovic, who dominated in the cities, also won thanks in part to the split among the right wing.
The election was viewed as a key test for the ruling HDZ party of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic ahead of parliamentary elections later this year and Grabar-Kitarovic’s loss was seen as a heavy blow.
“It will weaken the (HDZ) party” and harm Plenkovic’s reputation, political analyst Tihomir Cipek said.
The prime minister is also facing the discontent of hardliners within the HDZ over his moderate policies.
Young people are leaving
Grabar-Kitarovic had presented herself as the “woman of the people” with humble farming roots.
She has also come under fire for downplaying the crimes committed by the pro-Nazi Ustasha regime that ruled the short-lived Independent State of Croatia during World War II.
Meanwhile, Milanovic, prime minister from 2011 until 2016 whose government failed to push through much-needed reforms, had sought to make a political comeback and throw off a reputation as arrogant and elitist.
He will now take office during Croatia’s EU presidency where four main issues are likely to dominate – the bloc’s relationship with the UK after Brexit; the membership bids of Western Balkan states; climate change; and the bloc’s budget framework for the next decade.
The Adriatic country joined the EU in 2013, but its economy, strongly relying on tourism, remains one of the bloc’s weakest.
The EU’s open borders also accelerated the exodus of Croatians seeking better pay in wealthier member states.
Many emigrants also cite corruption, nepotism and poor public services as reasons for leaving.
“Politicians are wrangling about the past and insignificant issues while my generation is leaving,” said Maja Maric, a 20-year-old economy student. She said she voted for a “lesser evil”.
More than 200 former senior military officials endorse Donald Trump for reelection
More than 200 former senior military officers have endorsed President Trump in the upcoming election and issued a warning that his Democratic rival Joseph R. Biden would slash the defense budget if he is elected president. The 235 former officers, which include retired Air Force and Navy admirals, argued that the nation’s “historic way of…
More than 200 former senior military officers have endorsed President Trump in the upcoming election and issued a warning that his Democratic rival Joseph R. Biden would slash the defense budget if he is elected president.
The 235 former officers, which include retired Air Force and Navy admirals, argued that the nation’s “historic way of life is at stake” and pointed to the Democratic Party “welcoming to socialists and Marxists.”
“During the Obama/Biden administration, America’s armed forces were subjected to a series of ill-considered and debilitating budget cuts,” the former senior officers wrote in a letter Monday. “The Democrats have once again pledged to cut defense spending, undermining our military strength.”
They argued that proposed cuts will “create a potentially perilous situation for the United States during a time of great external and internal threats to our nation.”
Although some progressive Democrats in the House have backed significant cuts to defense spending, Mr. Biden said last week in an interview with Stars and Stripes that he does not intend to make major cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.
“I don’t think [budget cuts] are inevitable, but we need priorities in the budget,” Mr. Biden said.
The Trump endorsement comes less than a week after The Atlantic published a report that Mr. Trump skipped a visit to a U.S. military cemetery in France in 2018 after calling the dead “losers” for getting killed in battle.
Mr. Trump and the White House quickly rejected the assertions and called the publication a “total never-Trumper magazine.”
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73 former Republican national security officials endorse Joe Biden
A group of more than 70 former national security officials spanning the last four Republican administrations endorsed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden, arguing that President Trump is “dangerously unfit” to serve another term. Among the group’s members include former National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Director Gen. Michael Hayden, former Deputy Secretary of…
A group of more than 70 former national security officials spanning the last four Republican administrations endorsed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden, arguing that President Trump is “dangerously unfit” to serve another term.
Among the group’s members include former National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Director Gen. Michael Hayden, former Deputy Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence Amb. John Negroponte, and former CIA and FBI Director William Webster.
Four former Trump administration officials also signed the statement including former Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff Miles Taylor, former DHS Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Neumann, former General Counsel of the Peace Corps Robert Shanks and former General Counsel of DHS John Mitnick.
“While we — like all Americans — had hoped that Donald Trump would govern wisely, he has disappointed millions of voters who put their faith in him and has demonstrated that he is dangerously unfit to serve another term,” the 73 Republican former officials wrote in a joint statement.
“In contrast, we believe Joe Biden has the character, experience, and temperament to lead this nation,” they said of the former vice president.
The group cited 10 reasons behind their decision to support Mr. Biden in the upcoming election and said that Mr. Trump “has disgraced America’s global reputation and undermined our nation’s moral and diplomatic influence,” “demonstrated far greater concern about the fate of his reelection than the health of the American people,” and “disparaged our armed forces, intelligence agencies, and diplomats.”
“While some of us hold policy positions that differ from those of Joe Biden and his party, the time to debate those policy differences will come later,” the former officials wrote. “For now, it is imperative that we stop Trump’s assault on our nation’s values and institutions and reinstate the moral foundations of our democracy.”
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Spain’s former king to leave the country amid corruption claims |NationalTribune.com
The former monarch of Spain, King Juan Carlos I, says he is leaving to live in another country, weeks after he was linked to an investigation into allegations of corruption. In June, Spain’s Supreme Court opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’s involvement with a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia after Switzerland’s La Tribune de…
The former monarch of Spain, King Juan Carlos I, says he is leaving to live in another country, weeks after he was linked to an investigation into allegations of corruption.
In June, Spain’s Supreme Court opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’s involvement with a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia after Switzerland’s La Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported he had received $100 million from Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah.
Through his lawyer, Javier Sanchez-Junco, Juan Carlos, who is 82, has declined to comment on the allegations.
Sanchez-Junco said in a brief statement on Monday that the former king had asked him to make clear that even though he will be outside Spain he intends to be available to cooperate with the investigation.
It was not immediately clear whether Juan Carlos was still in Spain, but El Mundo newspaper reported that Juan Carlos had already left the country.
“I am informing you of my considered decision to move, during this period, out of Spain,” Juan Carlos said in a letter to his son King Felipe published on the royal family’s website on Monday.
The former king said he made the decision against the backdrop of “public repercussions of certain episodes of my past private life,” adding that he wanted to ensure he does not make his son’s role difficult.
“My legacy and my own dignity demand that it should be so,” he said without specifying which country he will be moving to.
King Felipe thanked Juan Carlos for his decision, underlining “the historic importance that his father’s reign represents” for democracy in Spain.
He also reaffirmed “the principles and values on which it (democracy) is based according to our Constitution and legal framework”.
Spain COVID-19 surge sparks fears of a second wave
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez recently said he found the developments about Juan Carlos, including investigations in Spain and Switzerland, “disturbing”.
The 82-year-old former king is credited with helping Spain peacefully restore democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
But marred by scandals in the later years of his reign, Juan Carlos in 2014 abdicated in favour of his son Felipe VI, losing the inviolability protection Spain’s constitution grants to the head of state.
The Spanish Supreme Court announced in June the opening of an investigation to establish whether former King Juan Carlos has criminal responsibility in an alleged corruption case when Saudi Arabia entrusted the construction of the Mecca TGV to a Spanish consortium [Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP]
After media reports claimed Felipe was a beneficiary of an offshore account holding an alleged 65 million-euro gift ($76 million) from Saudi Arabia to Juan Carlos, Felipe renounced any future personal inheritance he might receive from the former king. Felipe also stripped his father of his annual stipend of 194,232 euros ($228,000).
The royal house has denied that Felipe had any knowledge of his father’s alleged financial irregularities.
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