Croatia’s top court rules that the president can’t run in the parliamentary election unless he quits

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Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic adjusts his tie at a press conference with Chilean President Gabriel Boric at La Moneda Presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, on Dec 12, 2022. (AP)

ZAGREB, Croatia, March 19, (AP): Croatian’s president can’t run for prime minister, take part in the upcoming parliamentary election or campaign in favor of an opposition party, unless he resigns immediately from his current post, according to a ruling on Monday from the country’s top court.
President Zoran Milanović blasted the Constitutional Court decision, saying: “They did it in a gangster way.”
“I will eventually be prime minister, but I won’t tell that gang how,” he told reporters.
Milanović on Friday called a parliamentary election for April 17, but hours later announced that he would run for Croatia’s next prime minister on the list of the opposition Social Democratic Party.
The surprise announcement has triggered a deep political crisis in the European Union and NATO-member country, with the state’s constitutional court called in to give its opinion on Milanović’s move to run in the parliamentary election.
“If he (president) wants to take part in a political campaign … he must submit his resignation immediately to the president of the Constitutional Court,” presiding judge Miroslav Separovic said at a news conference.
“The president and the SDP party are obliged to act in accordance with this warning and stop violating the constitution,” he said, adding that the president is a nonpartisan figure, according to the constitution, and as such Milanović isn’t allowed to take part in an election or campaign in favor of one political party.
The ballot next month will pit the ruling conservative Croatian Democratic Union against the SDP-led group of centrist and left-leaning parties, which have announced that they will run as an alliance.
After announcing his bid to become Croatia’s new prime minister, Milanović immediately started an election campaign on behalf of the SDP. But constitutional court judges ruled on Monday that the move was unconstitutional.
Milanović intended to challenge the current conservative prime minister, Andrej Plenković, and his ruling Croatian Democratic Union, known by its Croatian initials as the HDZ, which he has accused of rampant corruption. The two have been involved in continuous bickering over a number of issues.

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