Ivo Josipovic elected President of Croatia

11 January 2010

Social Democrat Ivo Josipovic, a scholar, composer and the director of Music Biennale Zagreb (member of the European Festivals Association since 1997), convincingly won the presidential election in Croatia on 10 January 2010. After obtaining the largest number of votes among 12 candidates in the first round, Josipovic, who was the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), received the support of more then 60% of the voters in a run-off against the independent candidate Milan Bandic, Mayor of Zagreb. The Croatians opted for a man of education and culture and made him one of the very few artists and the first composer as a head of state in history. It is a very strong message from Croatia to the world, especially to the EU. Ivo Josipovic is eager to lead the country towards full European Union membership in 2012. Josipovic promised to back Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor's drive to implement reforms and fight widespread corruption, as required by Brussels to complete EU accession talks in 2010. His inauguration as the third President of the Croatian Republic since independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, after Franjo Tudjman (1990 -1999) and Stjepan Mesic (2000-2010) will take place on 18 February 2010. After the results were announced early on Monday, Josipovic compared his election to a ''victorious symphony.” Dr. Ivo Josipovic was born in Zagreb in 1957. He pursued parallel careers in music and law, obtaining a degree in composition at the Zagreb Music Academy in 1983 and a doctorate in law. He is a leading Croatian expert in criminal and international law. At the focus of his activities were war crimes and human rights. He is a professor at the University of Zagreb Law School. His compositional oeuvre comprises around 50 works for orchestral, chamber, solo and vocal ensembles, some of them being prized in Croatia and at international competitions. Josipovic was Secretary General of the Croatian Composers Society between 1987 and 2000 and contributed greatly in transforming it into a modern and efficient organisation, as well as developing the Croatian collecting society for musical copyright protection. He has been a member of the Croatian Parliament since 2003. Josipovic is still a board member of the Croatian Composers Society and since 1991 the head of the Society’s most important project, the Zagreb Music Biennale. According to the law, he will resign from those positions in order to fully concentrate on leading the country. In an interview in April 2009 about his presidential ambitions, Josipovic explained why he chose the theme “Art & Politics” for the jubilee 25th Music Biennale: “The Zagreb Music Biennale always has a featured theme. The fact that I am also a politician did, however, affect the choice of topic, which brings together art and politics. I saw that with the coming of the economic crisis that society has become very much politicised. Everyone, artists included, has something to say about the transformation of society that is inevitably coming. Berislav Sipus, the art director, accepted this line of thought. We have, however, avoided petty politics. The time that is coming will be one of reassessing many social values. Art will make its contribution with its social messages. The works we have selected for the Zagreb Music Biennale bear the message of peace, non-aggression, social justice and will send a musical message of optimism from Zagreb. The articulation of the message differs, depending on the aesthetic approach each artist takes.” With Ivo Josipovic the sectors of culture, arts and entertainment will get a strong advocate and supporter. In his former artistic, business and political career, Josipovic made great achievements for the benefit of culture, arts, music and authors' rights in Croatia. His supporters from the cultural sector are convinced that as head of state he will continue his support domestically as well as internationally. Related links: • Music Biennale Zagreb • Interview “Ivo Josipovic – presidential ambitions of an avant-garde composer” (April 2009)