Saturday, 25 January 2020
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

Zoran Milanovic is the new president of Croatia winning yesterday’s elections with 53 percent of the overall vote.

Even though the SDP candidate won most of the major cities in Croatia he failed to win the majority of votes in Dubrovnik. Just under 50 percent of citizens voted in Dubrovnik and the former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic won 4,472 votes compared to 4,367 votes for Zoran Milanovic.

In total 9,246 votes were cast, however 407 ballots were invalid.

 

Croatia has a new President and around the world Croatians voted yesterday. In neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, won an amazing 92.3 percent of the votes from all the polling stations processed with the new president Zoran Milanovic winning a mere 7.6 percent.

In the second round of voting yesterday the Croatian ex-pat community once again showed their massive support for the ruling political party HDZ, as their candidate and now former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic won 87.9 percent of their votes, whilst Zoran Milanovic won 12.08 percent. In real terms Grabar-Kitarovic won 44,049 votes and Milanovic 6,055 votes.

Polling stations in 47 countries were open yesterday for the Croatian Presidential elections. Apart from winning in Bosnia and Herzegovina Grabar-Kitarovic alos won in Serbia where she picked up 429 votes compared to 417 for Milanovic. In Slovenia Milanovic won taking 169 votes to 101. In Austria Grabar-Kitarovic won 604 votes compared to 193 for Milanovic. In Hungary 58 voters went for Grabar-Kitarovic whilst 54 voted for Milanovic. In Germany the former president saw a massive majority winning 7,101 votes as opposed to only 940 for Milanovic. The former president also won Italy where she won 178 votes as opposed to 123 for the SDP candidate.

Milanovic did better in Ireland, winning 85 votes compared to only 12 for Grabar-Kitarovic, and in the UK winning 119 votes against 38, and in China winning 8 out of 7 votes cast. Also the SDP candidate picked up Denmark, where he won 52 of 88 votes cast.

In Afghanistan the Croatian soldiers based there showed their full support for the former president, out of 101 votes cast 91 voted for her. She also won more votes in Montenegro, Russia, Albania, Kosovo and Northern Macedonia.

Overseas votes from voters in the US, Canada, Chile, Brazil and Argentina have not yet arrived.

With Croatians voting for a new president, with the SDP candidate Zoran Milanovic winning with almost 53 percent of the vote, it is interesting to see that the voting pattern of Croatians living around the world didn’t follow the pattern of Croatians at home. In fact, this has been the case for the past two decades, with ex-pat Croatians circling HDZ in every election, especially in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

During 2019, Split was visited by 944,000 tourists who realized 2.75 million overnight stays, an increase of nine percent in both arrivals and overnight stays, announced the Split Tourist Board.

Surprisingly the largest number of foreign tourists were Americans, with 105,000, followed by British tourists with 94,000 arrivals, and then followed by Germans, French, Australians and Italians.

Guests stayed for an average of three days, making Split one of the most successful city break destinations. According to the World Tourism Organization the average stay of guests across Europe is 2.4 days.

In December, almost 17,000 guests visited Split, a record for the last month of the year and a 19 percent increase in arrivals compared to the year before.

 

The real estate market in Croatia is returning to pre-crisis levels and the volume of trading and the number of transactions are accelerating, according to a report in the newspaper Vecernji List.

The Institute of Economics, Zagreb, published the second edition of the Croatian Real Estate Market Review for 2018, which shows that in 2018, there were 104,000 real estate purchases in Croatia and the value of real estate sold was 32 billion Kuna, or 8.4 percent of Croatia's GDP for that year.

Of the 104,000 real estate transactions in 2018 just under 40 percent, or 40,000 transactions, were carried out with agricultural land. Whereas in 2018 24,000 apartments changed hands in Croatia, an increase of around 1,500 on the previous year.

Over the past few years one of the boom cities in Croatia for real estate has been the capital, Zagreb. Although the highest prices are still in the southernmost city, Dubrovnik. Property prices in Zagreb rose by around 5 percent in 2018 when compared to 2017, according to data in the market review. And of the 24,000 apartments sold throughout the country 8,000 were sold in the capital.

 

Croatia is at the polls today as second round of the Presidential elections are underway. By 11:30am 18.87 percent of the population had already cast their vote, but voters in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County were slower to react than the rest of the country with 17.64 percent already visiting the voting booths.

The Varažadin County saw the most voters by 11:30am with almost 22 percent already casting their vote, with the least amount of voters in the Požega-Slavonia County at only 13.82 percent.

In the Dubrovnik region the most votes were cast in Opuzen with 20.45 percent, followed by Korcula with 18.8 percent, Metkovic with 18.64 percent, Ploce with 17.53 percent and Dubrovnik with only 16.63 percent.

Across the Dubrovnik-Neretva County there are 212 polling stations for the total of 107,699 eligible voters.

Croatia is today for its fifth president and the early indicators show a strong turnout of voters at all voting booths throughout the country. According to official information 18.87 percent of voters had visited polling booths by 11:30am. The polling booths opened at 7:00am this morning and will remain open until 7:00pm.

The highest turnout so far today has been recorded in the Varaždin County - 21.97 percent, while the lowest in Požega-Slavonia County - 13.82 percent, while the City of Zagreb recorded a solid turnout of 19.77 percent.

The voting booths across the country opened this morning 7:00am for the Croatian Presidential elections. Current president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, and SDP candidate and former Prime Minister, Zoran Milanovic, go head to head today in what is expected to be a very close run affair.

Milanovic won the first round of voting on the 22nd of December last year when 11 candidates contested the position of Croatian President. And now today the second round sees the top two candidates from the first round go head to head.

At 7.00am a grand total of 6,409 polling stations opened their doors across the country, and will remain open until 7:00pm.

But in addition to the polling stations in Croatia a further 47 countries will open for Croatia citizens to vote. For example, in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina there will be a total of 44 polling stations open all day today and early reports indicate that at the polling station in Mostar voters were waiting from well before 7.00am.

 

Welcome to a new decade! Forget New Year’s resolutions, it’s time to make decade resolutions.

The last Christmas of the twenty-tens is behind us, the turkey has been digested and the presents probably already forgotten or on sale on e-bay. We now move forward into the “twenties,” presumably a decade that won’t be as crazy as one hundred years ago when the 1920’s where known as the “Roaring Twenties” or the “Années folles.”

A lot has happened in this last decade; ten years is a long time. On a global scale we have seen not one but two Royal weddings, global warming causing havoc – from the Icelandic eruption of Eyjafjallajokull that shut down the world’s airlines in 2010 to the Fukushima earthquake just a year later that killed over 15,000 people in Japan. We saw the launch of the very first iPad, the explosion of one-hit wonders thanks mainly to YouTube, starting with Gangnam Style in 2012, we also were bombarded with various online challenges that went viral for a few weeks and then died, remember the ice bucket challenge or the bottle cap challenge.

In 2014 a Malaysian flight went missing never to be seen again, in 2015 the US made same sex marriage legal, we had children (and adults) searching for Pokémon Go and the rise of populism politics with a former reality star becoming President of the most powerful country in the world. What a difference ten years makes, in January 2010 at the very start of the decade, Barack Obama was only one year into his US presidency, Instagram hadn't yet been invented and the word Brexit had never been uttered. A decade is a long time, and not just in politics.

It has been a decade that has seen over twenty wars around the world, from civil wars to invasions. So more than two wars every years during a decade of unrest as man’s stupidity continues to wreak havoc. One day we might learn, but I sadly doubt it.

On a more local level Croatia started the decade outside of the European Union, had only been a full member of NATO for one year and Mesić was still the President. But one thing that doesn’t move quite as fast is the legal system, Sanader was arrested for corruption in Austria in 2010 but it took almost until the end of the decade before he was finally sentenced. It was a decade that saw a tiny country with a population of around 4 million compete in a football championship in a country with 144 million and come second to a country with 67 million.

As far as sport is concerned 2018 was a difficult year to beat. Although the country’s women were just as successful, with Blanka Vlašić named the European athlete of the year in 2010 and then Sandra Perković out-throwing the whole world. And on an even more local level we have seen the start of the Chinese building our largest infrastructure project ever, the Peljesac Bridge, a project that was first thought of in 1997, yes bridges are just as slow as the law courts in Croatia. We all rode the Game of Thrones wave, that started back in 2012, and then jumped revelled in the limelight of all the other film and serials using Dubrovnik as a background. Just how many times have we seen Dubrovnik on the screen this decade? It certainly changed the direction of our tourism industry that’s for sure. We have also seen bucket loads of media attention for cruise ship overcrowding, snow caused roads to close on two occasions and the reopening of the iconic cable car (yes, it was only reopened this last decade.)

So what will this new ten-year period bring us? Who can say. Nostradamus believes that we will see political and environmental turmoil. I believe he is probably correct this time. From Brexit to the US election in 2020, and Croatia will start the decade with a new, or maybe new/old President. The climate will continue to dominate all our thoughts and the planet will continue to fight back.

So start making those New Year and New Decade resolutions and always remember let go of yesterday, let today be a new beginning and be the best that you can, and you'll get to where you want to be.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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