Secretary-general of Croatia’s ruling HDZ claims party has secured majority for government reshuffle

By Akin Nazli in Zagreb June 10, 2016

Domagoj Ivan Milosevic, secretary-general of Croatia’s senior coalition partner Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), said on June 9 that the party has the support of a sufficient number of deputies in the parliament to regroup the parliamentary majority and carry out a government reshuffle, About Croatia reported.

Milosevic did not identify HDZ’s new coalition partners, resulting in some scepticism about his claim to have a new majority lined up. Early elections still seem to be the strongest possibility looking at the current parliamentary arithmetic, although a possible snap election seems unlikely to bring about a radically different result from last November’s election, and is even less likely to address Croatia’s deep-seated economic challenges.

Milosevic confirmed on June 9 that current Finance Minister Zdravko Maric is one of the candidates for the prime minister post, but he said that HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko would have the final say. Milosevic also said that the HDZ should not withdraw its non-confidence motion against technocratic Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic.

Bozo Petrov, head of the HDZ's junior partner Bridge of Independent Lists (Most), called on the HDZ to line up the 76 deputies allegedly supporting it in parliament for a government reshuffle or to nominate someone else to replace Karamarko as deputy prime minister. Otherwise a snap election will be called, Petrov said according to About Croatia.

Meanwhile, the SDP has started collecting signatures to dissolve parliament. The SDP aims to collect a majority, at least 76, to force the parliament speaker to put the item on the agenda. The party’s 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.

Tim Ash from Nomura Securities said on June 9 in an e-mailed comment that Karamarko and the HDZ have been losing credibility with their last gasp effort to stay in power. “Seems very unlikely at this stage that the HDZ could reforge a stable majority without support from Most,” according to Ash. “The longer this saga goes on the more the HDZ is likely to lose support if we end up going to early elections.”

The no-confidence vote against Oreskovic is expected to be held next week before the June 18 deadline for a no-confidence vote against Karamarko. Parliament speaker Zeljko Reiner, an HDZ deputy, said that the no-confidence vote against Oreskovic was added to the parliament's agenda on June 8.

The government now has eight days to send the no-confidence motion to the parliament and the parliament has to vote on it within 30 days, according to Croatian legislation, though the parliament can hold the vote as early as June 15. Reiner said on June 7 “it is logical that the motion for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister should be discussed first”, ie before the vote on Karamarko.

SDP leader Zoran Milanovic said on June 7 that the latest no-confidence vote against Oreskovic is "a trick by the HDZ to save its leader Karamarko from the no-confidence vote."

However, Milanovic is also keen for elections to be held. He said on June 7 that the SDP will push for early elections by the middle of next month.

Karamarko said on June 8 that he is ready to resign to save the current coalition if Oreskovic and Petrov also resign. Karamarko also said that the HDZ's decision to seek the impeachment of Oreskovic was meant to cause a shock. "It's good we have caused this shock, we did it to make it clear that this should stop and that we should start working normally," said Karamarko.

17 deputies from HDZ and its coalition partners did not sign the no-confidence motion against Oreskovic. Ash speculates that the missing signatures suggest some division within the ruling party. Indeed, several leading members of the HDZ have called for Karamarko to step down, including Karamarko’s own deputy Milijan Brkic, according to Ash.


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