Croatia: Leading Political Party Under Investigation for Corruption

Croatia’s ruling political party, HDZ, today confirmed that it is under investigation for corruption by the state office for fighting organized crime, known as USKOK. This is the first time in Croatia that an entire political party has been investigated.

Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosorsaid the investigation represents a political attempt to “demolish the HDZ.”

While noting that this is an extremely difficult moment for HDZ, Kosor told the public at at a press conference Thursday morning that the party will not stop its own efforts in the fight against corruption.

HDZ is under investigation for the alleged use of slush funds created by skimming profits from public companies in the 2003 and 2007 parliamentary elections, as well as the 2005 elections, when Kosor was the party’s candidate for president.

The premier herself is not under investigation.  However, Ivo Sanader, her predecessor as prime minister, is currently on trial for  accepting bribes in 1995 for facilitating a loan by the Austrian Hypo Alpe Adria Bank to Croatia.

The anti-corruption process against Sanader is being led by his hand-picked successor, Jadranka Kosor. Fighting corruption is considered one of Croatia’s biggest prerequisites to fulfilling the criteria for Croatia’s entry into the EU in 2013.

The investigation, which began six weeks before the December 4 parliamentary elections, comes at a time the  polls show decreasing support for HDZ.