Croatia’s Most party signs opposition SDP’s motion for early elections

By bne IntelliNews June 17, 2016

Croatia’s opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) reportedly has the required majority to put a motion for early elections on the parliament’s agenda, after the Bridge of Independent Lists (Most) backed the motion.

Croatia is in a state of political turmoil at present. The coalition government collapsed on June 16 after technocratic Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic lost a confidence vote. President Koilinda Grabar-Kitarovic is expected to again give the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) - as the biggest party in the parliament - the mandate to form a new government. However, if a new prime minister is not elected by the parliament within 30 days of the collapse of the current government, the president will have to call early elections.

Elections are now more likely since MPs from Most, the HDZ’s former coalition partner, have sided with the SDP. Miro Simic, a Most deputy, announced on June 17 that 12 Most deputies have signed the SDP’s motion, news agency Hina reported.

Domagoj Ivan Milosevic, secretary general of the HDZ, claimed on June 9 that the party had the support of a sufficient number of deputies in the parliament to regroup the parliamentary majority and carry out a government reshuffle. The HDZ wants Finance Minister Zdravko Maric to be the new prime minister.
However, Milosevic did not identify HDZ’s new coalition partners, resulting in some scepticism about his claim to have a new majority lined up. Milosevic later said on June 14 that the Patriotic Coalition had 68 deputies, including the 59 HDZ deputies.

The SDP started collecting signatures to dissolve parliament last week. The main opposition party aimed to collect a majority of at least 76 MPs to force the parliament speaker to put the item on the agenda. SDP leader Zoran Milanovic claimed on June 10 that the party already had enough signatures, and that early elections were also favoured by 70% of the electorate, according to a party statement.

Milanovic said on June 10 that Most’s support would be essential if early elections are to be called. Most currently has 12 seats in the parliament although the party had 19 deputies after November elections.

Tim Ash of Standard Bank said in an e-mailed comment on June 17 that he thinks further splits in Most are likely since Most deputies are aware that the latest opinion polls show they will probably lose their seats in the case of early elections. With HDZ seemingly having the backing of 68 MPs, they just need eight more votes to form a majority around Maric, Ash also points.

Ash does not see early elections as a disaster, although he thinks snap elections would stall reforms for a few months. The former ruling SDP, likely to win those elections at this stage, had a very mixed track record on the reform front, according to Ash.


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