ZAGREB – The beginning of the end for Zagreb’s mayor

Deputies of Zagreb’s City Assembly have overwhelmingly rejected draft amendments to the controversial urban development plan (GUP) which would pave a path towards the so-called “Zagreb Manhattan”, which has been opposed by numerous experts, citizens and opposition lawmakers.

Zagreb has been the centre of a serious drama. In the Council, mayor Milan Bandić depends on the cooperation with Croatian ruling party HDZ (EPP), offering his support for the national government in exchange.

The crucial council plenary session was delayed for several hours because HDZ and Bandić were trying to work out a deal that would push the plan through the Council.

According to several HDZ’s anonymous sources, Plenković was trying to prevent a “catastrophe” which would jeopardise the media coverage for the Croatian EU presidency.

However, the mayor’s deputies had firstly rejected the amendments proposed by the ruling party HDZ, prompting them to reject Bandić’s proposal. The controversial plan has therefore been overwhelmingly rejected, but the entire plot-twist has put the stability of Plenković’s coalition and the future of Milan Bandić in Zagreb in danger.

Milan Bandić has become a very controversial figure in Croatian politics after almost two decades as mayor of Zagreb, during which he has faced numerous accusations of corruption and abuse of power.

Croatian politicians have increasingly been turning their back against Bandić, which has put additional pressure on Plenković to showing support for the mayor at the national level, which has been challenging for the PM, who has been struggling to keep his party in line.

Only several minutes after the City Council had rejected Bandić’s plan, the Croatian parliament sent MPs an altered version of this week’s session, with voting being scheduled for Friday now missing from the agenda.

According to well-informed sources, Bandić had already threatened that he would withdraw his deputies from Friday’s voting which could result in a no-confidence vote for Plenković’s government.

Bandić has lost the support of HDZ at local level which has made him vulnerable to the growing pressure of Zagreb’s opposition accusing him of criminal activities. Yesterday’s turn of events might have been marked the end of their cooperation, and of his reign.  (Tea Trubić Macan | EURACTIV.hr)

 

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