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Croatian conservatives secure majority to form government

Update: December, 23/2015 - 11:26

ZAGREBCroatia's main opposition conservatives and a small party that emerged as a kingmaker in last month's election have secured the parliamentary majority needed to form a government, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said on Tuesday.

Members of the Patriotic Coalition, led by the main opposition conservative HDZ, and the smaller Most party "informed me that they enjoy the support of a majority, or 78 deputies" in the 151-seat assembly, Grabar-Kitarovic told reporters.

The last round of consultations between the president and the parties would be held on Wednesday when a deal on choosing the new prime minister should be reached, she said.

"By Wednesday evening either we will have a PM-designate or I will name a temporary government and call early parliamentary elections," Grabar-Kitarovic said.

The breakthrough comes more than six weeks after elections that failed to produce an outright winner.

It led to difficult talks, marked by numerous twists, between a bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats, the HDZ-led coalition and the Most party over reforms that would be implemented by a new government.

Under the constitution, the president must consult with parties to name a new prime minister who must enjoy the support of a majority of deputies.

Most ("Bridge" in Croatian) initially insisted that the new premier should be non-partisan, although it eventually accepted that its leader Bozo Petrov be nominated for the position.

Both Petrov and HDZ have continued to express support for a non-partisan premier, without giving a name.

"We will name a PM-designate by tomorrow. We aim to select a non-partisan person, an expert. The whole government will be reformist and expert," HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko told reporters.

However, he added that the new premier could be "someone from Most," possibly hinting at Petrov.

Political newcomer Most has sought to position itself as reformist, and Petrov insisted late on Tuesday that his party's "goal is a non-partisan PM-designate."

Impasse delaying reforms

Most emerged as a powerful force in the election, coming third with an unexpected 19 seats. But the party has since been beset by internal wrangling, with at least four members leaving.

Focused on the need for widespread reforms of the public sector, judiciary and fiscal policy, most of Most's leadership hail from a conservative background.

The eventual PM-designate has up to 60 days to secure support for a cabinet, failing which another candidate can be named. After a second failure, the president would have to call fresh elections.

The political deadlock has been delaying badly needed economic reform as Croatia slowly emerges from six years of recession and faces an unprecedented influx of refugees on their way to northern Europe.

For the past four years the European Union's newest member has been led by a centre-left coalition government headed by Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic's SDP. — AFP

 

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