Croatian Ruling Party Expels Former Prime Minister

Former Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, has been expelled from the country’s ruling conservative party, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, a day after he criticised his successor and announced that he was returning to politics.

“The presidency of the Croatian Democratic Union …has decided to expel Ivo Sanader from the party ,”  said the party leader and Croatian Prime Minister, Jadranka Kosor.

Kosor said the decision, backed by the majority of the HDZ’s policy-making presidency, was made because Sanader “inflicted damage on the party and violated its statute”.

The decision came just a day after Sanader stunned Croatia by announcing his return to politics in a hastily organised press conference held at HDZ headquarters.

Sanader did not inform Kosor about his intention to hold the press conference, during which he accused her of poor leadership.

Kosor said that Sanader’s comments were “very damaging and dangerous not just for the party, but also for the coalition government and for the future of Croatia.”

Sanader’s return to politics, after his unexpected withdrawal last summer, threatened to strain the HDZ’s relationship with other government parties, which said they would leave the ruling coalition if he regained political control.

All of the HDZ’s coalition partners voiced their support for Kosor.
Sanader unexpectedly resigned last July as both Prime Minister and HDZ president, hand-picking his then deputy Kosor, to replace him in both positions. However, Sanader retained the ambiguous title of honorary party chairman.

On Sunday, Sanader said that he intended to play an active role in the party and that he was considering the re-taking his parliamentary post, which he left following his appointment as Prime Minister in 2003.

While Sanader said on Monday that he would “accept the HDZ’s decision if it is in the interest of the party”, he could still seek to become an independent MP and to win over some HDZ deputies.

However, Kosor said that she was not afraid of that happening while noting that Sanader “has a right to return to parliament.”

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