Croatian People’s Party (HNS) makes spectacular U-turn on forming a coalition after party leader resigns

Croatian People’s Party (HNS) makes spectacular U-turn on forming a coalition after party leader resigns
The Croatian People's party will ask for three ministries, including the justice ministry, the science and education ministry and the construction ministry if it is join forces with the ruling party to form a new government
By bne IntelliNews June 8, 2017

The head committee of the Croatian People's Party (HNS) has reversed its decision to not form a coalition with the ruling  ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and announced on June 7 that it is considering doing so. One day before, the leader of the small but influential liberal-left HNS party, Ivan Vrdoljak, resigned after the party's presidency rejected his plans to form a new coalition with HDZ. 

The ruling HDZ party has been looking for a new coalition partner after splitting from the Bridge of Independent Lists (Most) in April. Without a coalition partner, the HDZ’s parliamentary majority is in question, meaning Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic has to find new sources of support for his government in order to appoint four new ministers to replace the former Most ministers. 

"I had sincere intentions to drag Croatia out of (political) turmoil but splitting the party would be too high a price," Vrdoljak said early on June 7 when announcing his decision to resign, which was taken at a five-hour long party presidency meeting. Despite the party's change of heart about the coalition later on that day, there has been no announcement that Vrdoljak has withdrawn his resignation.

HNS has nine MPs but it is not certain yet that all of them will support the coalition with HDZ. HNS will ask for three ministries, including the justice ministry, the science and education ministry and the construction ministry, acting HNS president Predrag Stromar told reporters on June 7.

HNS MP Goran Beus Richembergh said on June 7 that he expected an early parliamentary election while he also urged the main opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) and other left wing parties to support snap polls.

The president of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), Boris Miletic, declared on June 7 his support to HNS's head committee’s decision. IDS has 3 MPs.

The HDZ needs support of at least 76 MPs to replace the former ministers from Most, who include Interior Minister Vlaho Orepic, Minister of Justice Anto Sprlje and Energy Minister Slaven Dobrovic. The party currently has 61 MPs in the 151-seat parliament, meaning Plenkovic needs the support of 15 MPs from other parties.

So far Plenkovic has been trying to form a new majority within the current parliament, and has said the new ministers will be presented to the parliament after the second round of local polls. He still has the chance to form a new majority with the help of minority and independent MPs. However, it would be a rather slim majority.

The results of the local elections, which were held on May 21 and June 4, showed a continued strong showing for the HDZ. The local polls were seen as a popular confidence vote for the troubled ruling party.

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