Parliament elects Turudić as new chief prosecutor, opposition, and NGOs predict democratic erosion
Parliament elected Ivan Turudić as the new Attorney General on Wednesday, further deepening the divisions in the already deeply polarised Croatian political scene.
Turudić will take over the helm of the State Attorney’s Office (DORH) from Zlata Hrvoj Šipek in May, with a mandate as attorney general that lasts four years.
Turudić’s election was supported by 78 MPs, while 60 were against and two abstained.
Before the vote on Turudić, a war of words broke out in parliament between representatives of the ruling party and the opposition.
While representatives of the HDZ claimed that Turudić was the right choice for the position of prosecutor general because he had successfully handled some of the most famous court cases in Croatia, representatives of the opposition warned about Turudić’s acquaintances with suspects and defendants in criminal cases and his closeness to the HDZ.
They claimed the HDZ wanted to install him at the head of the DORH to protect Andrej Plenković from prosecution if he lost power in the next parliamentary elections.
The election of the new prosecutor general is an issue that has further divided the already polarised Croatian political scene.
The government led by Plenković proposed Turudić for the position to parliament on 25 January, claiming that it was “the most transparent election of the prosecutor general” because Turudić was selected for the position in a competition and not, as was previously the case, only based on a proposal from the executive to the legislative.
However, the opposition pointed out that Turudić publicly said he was close to the HDZ and did not hide his connections to those accused and even convicted of corruption.
President Zoran Milanović has also spoken out on several occasions against the appointment of Turudić, describing it in January as “Plenković’s most dangerous attack on independent institutions”.
Although practically the entire opposition was against the appointment of Turudić as State Prosecutor, the left-wing party Možemo has gone further.
The party representative, Sandra Benčić, announced she would report Plenković’s government to the European Commission for violating the acquis communautaire in justice and human rights and the EU Accession Treaty.
Euractiv’s questions to Benčić on the further steps of the party she leads towards the EU institutions were unanswered by publication.
But some analysts think asking for EU help could be a double-edged sword.
“I think that this is the wrong path for a political party. They have to work on gaining support at home while writing to the European Commission, which can be interpreted as a statement of weakness and seeking support from a higher authority. In addition, if the European Commission assesses that Plenković is was right, that would be a defeat for the opposition”, political analyst Božo Kovačević told Euractiv, pointing to Plenković’s connections in the EU institutions.
He added that he does not dispute anyone’s right to seek protection in Brussels but points out that, in this case, it is still crucial to win at home – by mobilising voters.
Political scientist and sociologist Anđelko Milardović also does not expect the request for help from the European Commission to bear fruit.
“I don’t believe that it could produce results. It could even be counterproductive for the opposition if they support Plenković in Brussels,” Milardović said.
He, too, believes that the political battle over Turudić’s election as chief prosecutor must be resolved on the Croatian political scene.
Incidentally, both Kovačević and Milardović warn that the ultimate election of Turudić to the role is doubtful.
(Adriano Milovan, Euractiv.hr)