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This background briefing was written by members of DiEM25’s Coordinating Collective.
On May 21, 2017 local elections will be held in Zagreb, Croatia. As the country’s capital, it was ruled for the last 16 years by populist Milan Bandic, a former social-democrat famous for major corruption scandals. With the rise of nationalism, populism and historical revisionism in Croatian society, these local elections will have a major influence on national politics and daily life in Croatia.
Against this background, after a decade of protests and civil disobedience, a green-left platform “Zagreb is OURS!” was recently formed, with the aim to bring back politics into the hands of the citizens. Following the example of Spanish platform Barcelona en Comú, they have launched a new left and green political platform which currently consists of five political parties (Zagreb je naš, Radnička Fronta, Nova Ljevica, Za Grad, ORAH) engaged in leftist and green politics, as well as numerous citizens, activists and initiatives who share their vision of future development of the city as an open, socially just, democratic and multicultural green city for all.
Their candidate is Tomislav Tomašević, who has 15 years of experience in environmental activism, served as Executive President of Green Action from 2007 to 2012, and was one of the co-founders of the Right to the City movement in Croatia.
Zagreb is OURS! opposes:
the current mayor Milan Bandić, known for many corruption affairs and scandals, who support privatisations and undemocratic governance of the city
candidate Anka Mrak Taritaš from the centre-left Croatian People’s Party (HNS), which was involved in major corruption affairs concerning infrastructure (highways etc.). She served in the neoliberal Cabinet of Zoran Milanović from 2012-2016
Sandra Švaljek, independent candidate for mayor of Zagreb, who was accused of nepotism for hiring her husband as assistant director to a foundation in 2014. She herself maintains a position on the Supervisory Board of the Bank of Split. She served as Deputy Mayor to Milan Bandić from 2014 to 2015 when he was in prison.
The political program of Zagreb is OURS! is in accordance with DiEM25’s Manifesto and European New Deal. Following the example of what we call “Rebel Cities” (with Naples, Barcelona, etc.) it advocates the return of decision-making power to neighborhoods, and creating models where citizens collectively decide on how the city should develop. Also, one of the key points of Zagreb is OURS! is to keep public services and utilities in public hands and enable equal access to them for all the citizens.