PREPARING FOR ELECTIONS
In a country which has one of the smallest gross domestic expenditures on research and development in Europe and where scientists often refuse to be part of the public discourse for fear of losing their positions, Ivica Puljak is one of those rare academic figures who are not scared to criticise the government. Together with his wife, he was one of the founders of the political party “Pametno” (“Smart”). The party is strongly orientated towards science, education and technology transfer. In the last national election Pametno didn’t make it to parliament. But they haven’t given up and they are preparing for the elections for the European Parliament in 2019 and for the Croatian parliamentary election in 2020.
The political scene of Croatia is becoming more and more superficial and populist in its nature. Physicist Ivica Puljak and his political colleagues from party “Pametno” (“Smart”) believe in long-term strategies created in collaboration with experts, rather than through trading particular interests with different parties. But their stubborn refusal of the opportunistic coalitions and their un-populist rhetoric doesn’t seem, for now, an especially successful approach to politics.
If he gets elected to the European parliament in May, Croatian physicist Ivica Puljak will switch fully from a 20-year successful scientific career to politics for an indefinite period of time. One of the main challenges of this often painful transition is the question, how can you communicate your mainly hard, long-term science-based solutions to a society where voters predominantly vote out of opportunistic motives or for purely nationalist ideas?
With the European elections around the corner, Ivica Puljak and his party tried to gain more visibility the hard way. In the meantime, the Croatian science community was starting to wake up, after another controversial proposition at the University of Zagreb.
Vedrana Simičević is a long-time Croatian journalist and editor at the Croatian daily newspaper Novi list. She is a psychologist by education. As a journalist Vedrana has specialised in science, social issues and social phenomena like migration, nationalism, xenophobia and democracies. Other topics of interest include culture, different field stories and outdoor sports. In 2018 she won the national award for the best journalistic work about environment protection. Recently she started contributing to international outlets, including Science and New Scientist.
Ivica Puljak, professor of physics at Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture in Split, is one of the best known Croatian physicists, with an impressive international career mostly connected with the CERN and the search for the Higgs-Boson at CMS. He is one of the most cited Croatian scientists; he was a guest scientists at CERN and a guest professor at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris; he is also a member of the international MAGIC collaboration.