Plenkovic’s government survives in Croatia as parliament approves new ministers

Plenkovic’s government survives in Croatia as parliament approves new ministers
By bne IntelliNews June 9, 2017

The Croatian parliament backed the appointment of seven new ministers to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s cabinet on June 9, after his Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) struck a new coalition deal with the left-leaning Croatian People's Party (HNS). 

Plenkovic’s government thus survived the loss of the HDZ’s former coalition partner, the the Bridge of Independent Lists (Most), which quit the government in April. However, questions about stability remain since some HNS MPs refused to support the coalition, and the new government was backed by a mixed bag of MPs from smaller parties and those representing Croatia’s ethnic minorities. 

78 of Croatia’s 151 MPs voted in favour of the appointments, showing Plenkovic now has a slim majority in the parliament.

Plenkovic announced the names of the new ministers late on June 8 following a party presidency meeting, and the signing of a coalition deal with the acting president of the HNS, Predrag Stromar. 

The HNS will take two seats in the cabinet, with Stromar becoming construction minister and deputy prime minister while another HNS MP, Blazenka Divjak, will be education minister.

Meanwhile, HDZ MP Drazen Bosnjakovic will be appointed as justice minister, while current Construction Minister Lovro Kusevic will become the new minister of administration, and HDZ’s Davor Bozinovic will be the new interior minister. Current Labour Minister Tomislav Coric will move to head the energy ministry, while Marko Pavic will replace him as labour minister.

Speaking on June 9, Plenkovic said that the two parties had adopted their key programme points and principles, and stressed that “we have provided a stable parliamentary majority for the normal functioning of the government of Croatia and other institutions”, according to an HDZ statement.

The HDZ currently has 61 MPs in the 151-seat parliament, while the HNS has nine MPs but four of them refused to support a coalition with the conservative HDZ. The party’s presidency initially refused to endorse the coalition talks, prompting the resignation of its leader Ivan Vrdoljak, before making an abrupt u-turn the following day to strike a deal with the HDZ. 

Vladimir Bilek, MP for Croatia’s Czech and Slovak minorities, told reporters late on June 8 that minority MPs continues to support Plenkovic’s government. There are eight minority MPs in the Croatian parliament.

Croatian Pensioners Party (HSU) leader and its only MP Silvano Hrelja said after holding a meeting with Plenkovic that his possible support for the government would be decided by members of the HSU's central bodies whom he would contact overnight.

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