First Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Radimir Cacic Resigns!
This summer the First Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Radimir Cacic (HNS) was sentenced by the Hungarian Court to 22 months in jail and released on probation for the involuntary manslaughter, after causing a traffic accident in Hungary on 8 January 2010 that resulted in the deaths of two persons. The ruling was appealed by the family of the deceased and the Hungarian County appeals court in Kaposvar overruled the initial court ruling for probation, requiring Cacic to serve jail time for half of the 22 month sentence (11 months). It is expected that Cacic will have to begin to serve his jail time within the next couple of months with the possibility of serving the sentence in Croatia. The verdict is not subject to appeal.
The sentence was served on the same day that Cacic was returning from Qatar where he and Croatian President Josipovic led an economic delegation promoting investment opportunities and trade relations between the two countries. In reaction to the jail sentence, Cacic resigned his positions within the Croatian Government. The leadership of the Croatian People’s Party (HNS) met this week and, in agreement with their government coalition partners, decided that Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic (HNS) would be named the First Prime Minister and Coordinator for Foreign and European Affairs, taking over Cacic’s role as First Prime Minister, according to the coalition agreement with the SDP. Construction Minister Ivan Vrdoljak (HNS) will take over Cacic’s responsibilities as Economy Minister and Anka Mrak Taritas, present Deputy Minister of Construction, will become the new Construction Minister. These changes were subsequently ratified by the Croatian Sabor with the opposition parties either voting against or abstaining. With the upcoming local elections in May 2013, the HNS also decided to organise an extraordinary party convention in March 2013, when Cacic will render his resignation and a new party leadership elected, meaning that Cacic intends to remain the HNS President, in the meantime, and even continue influence within the Government regarding economic and investment issues through his HNS colleagues. Along with Finance Minister Slavko Linic (SDP), Cacic was essentially the only Government Cabinet member with practical economic experience and was a very close partner and confidante of Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic (SDP). Along with the political clout of being the leader of the HNS, without which Milanovic could not form a majority government, Cacic’s dominant and energetic character (oftentimes brash and arrogant) is considered to have been crucial to the critical realisation of state investment projects and promoting local and international investors. Even though this is the perception of Cacic, under his authority, the reality is that public sector investment and FDI levels in 2012 are at very low levels and far behind the budgetary forecasts, significantly prolonging economic recovery forecasts.