Zagreb - After the longest discussion on amendments in the history of the modern Croatian parliament, the national legislature on Friday evening adopted a law on the financing of political activities, election campaigns and referendums. The law was passed with 81 votes in favour.
Independent MP Siniša Varga, a former member of parliament from the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who recently left that party, was among those who voted for the law.
Members of parliament from the opposition Bridge party walked out of the parliament before the vote and did not take part in it.
A record 911 amendments had been submitted to the bill, including 888 by the Bridge party.
Its deputies defended each of their amendments, which lasted, with only one, hour-long break, a total of 33 hours, the longest discussion on a single item on the agenda in the history of the parliament.
Even though not one of their amendments was adopted, Bridge MPs said that they were satisfied, describing the law as bad and serving the sole purpose of filling the ruling HDZ party's coffers ahead of the coming elections for the European Parliament.
The party found evidence for its claim in the provision which raises the allowed amount for campaigning in elections for the European Parliament from HRK 1.5 million to a maximum 4 million per slate.
The government insisted that the law regulated more comprehensively the financing of political activities and election campaigns as well as referendum activities, which were not regulated by law until now.
It also said that the new law created conditions for a more efficient supervision of financing and greater transparency by introducing an information system to supervise the financing of political activities and election and referendum campaigns.
Under the new law, financial reports, ordinary and election, will be published on the website of the State Election Commission, which will make it easier for experts and members of the general public to inspect party finances.
Budget funds for normal annual financing will be allocated in line with the final election results on the number of seats won and not depending on the number of seats at the time when a representative body is established, as was the case until now.
The parliament on Friday also passed a new law on wine.
PM: Bridge amendments unnecessary, contrary to citizens' interests
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who late on Friday evening arrived in the parliament while it was discussing the bill on the financing of political parties, election campaigns and referendums, said that he had come to express solidarity with MPs who would vote for the bill.
Speaking of the Bridge party's two-day action during which it presented 888 amendments to the bill, he said that it was unnecessary, nonsensical and contrary to citizens' interests and described it as filibustering.
"I can see that attempts are being made to undermine something that is rational and necessary for the entire campaign for European elections to gain appropriate visibility and for more funds to be secured for it," he said.
He added that there was no other European country that so far had envisaged so little funding for campaigns for European elections.
"The law so far envisaged only HRK 1.5 million per slate for a nation-wide campaign, which is the amount envisaged for one constituency in Croatian parliamentary elections. I have been in such a campaign twice, each time for 45 days. Those campaigns are very long, the longest we have, and the funding for them is absolutely below any minimum of what is necessary to raise awareness of European elections and European topics," said Plenković.