Croatian Government Crisis May 5: Live Updates

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Day 9 of the government crisis.

After another suspenseful day in the Parliament, the drama will continue today as Croatia waits to see whether a new stable parliamentary majority can be formed or whether early parliamentary elections will be held.

On Thursday, the Parliament rejected the opposition’s motion of no confidence against Finance Minister Zdravko Marić. The vote was 75-75, with one MP not voting, and the motion needed at least 76 votes to be passed. After the vote, Parliament Speaker Božo Petrov (MOST) resigned. His dismissal was previously demanded by more than half of all MPs. Deputy Speaker Željko Reiner (HDZ) tried to continue with the session, but the opposition protested, saying that he had no right to preside over the Parliament. The rules of the procedure say that the acting Speaker has to be a deputy Speaker from the majority, and the opposition claims there is currently no majority in the Parliament.

The issue should be decided this morning by the Parliamentary Committee on Constitution and Standing Orders, which will meet at 10:00. Interestingly, given the fact that MOST has left the ruling coalition, the majority of members of the Committee are now representatives of opposition parties. It will be interesting to see what will happen there.

The Parliament itself is scheduled to meet at 11:00, after the Committee comes to a decision on who is allowed to preside. It is not clear what will happen next. There is a possibility that HDZ might propose its candidate for Speakership, probably one of the current deputy Speakers, Gordan Jandroković. The Speaker of Parliament is elected by a majority of MPs present in the chamber, so the threshold is not high, although the opposition might try to obstruct the vote by leaving the chamber at the moment of voting, which could possibly mean that there would be no quorum for the Parliament to vote, unless HDZ manages to find 76 MPs to at least be present in the chamber. According to the previously agreed schedule of activities, today should be the last day of parliamentary session before a long break ahead of the local elections, the first round taking place on 21 May.

In a separate development, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will hold informal consultations with party representatives. While it will be interesting to see what the parties will say regarding their position, these consultations are informal and cannot bring about a formal solution to the crisis. HDZ President and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will not attend the consultations, due to a visit to Austria. The consultations start at 08.30.

This article will be updated throughout the day with the latest developments.

The Parliament has concluded its work. The next session is expected in early June, when the Prime Minister should propose candidates for the places of four Ministers, which are currently vacant. This concludes this phase of the government crisis. HDZ now has a month to expand its thin parliamentary majority in order to be able to confirm the new Ministers and govern in the months ahead. The focus will now turn to local elections on 21 May.

Gordan Jandroković has been elected Speaker of Parliament with 76 votes in favour and 13 against.

Independent MP Željko Glasnović, who did not vote on the issue of dismissal of Finance Minister Zdravko Marić yesterday, but who today announced his support for HDZ’s candidate for Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, published an agreement which he has signed with the Prime Minister in return for his vote on Facebook. Demands which the Prime Minister has apparently accepted include increased payments to members of HVO (Bosnian Croat forces during the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina), increased benefits for Homeland War veterans, and more open policies toward members of the Croatian diaspora.

Representatives of MOST and HDZ have not attended the consultations with the President. The reason is presumably the debate on the new Speaker which is continuing in the Parliament and the vote which is expected this afternoon.

The debate is continuing, ahead of the vote on the new Speaker of Parliament Gordan Jandroković (HDZ).

The Parliament has voted on the official dismissal of Speaker Božo Petrov, after his yesterday’s resignation. The dismissal was supported by 103 votes in favour, 1 against and 4 abstentions.

After the new Speaker is elected, the Parliament will leave until after the local elections. The next session will probably begin around 7 June.

The Committee has concluded its session. HDZ has proposed a candidate for new Speaker of Parliament. The proposal is supported by 76 MPs, which is the majority of all MPs, so the candidate is likely to be elected. The session of Parliament should start soon. The candidate is Gordan Jandroković.

The meeting of the Committee is still in progress. Journalists have been asked to leave the committee room. The beginning of today’s session of Parliament has been delayed until the Committee comes to a decision.

The meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitution and Standing Orders has begun. Robert Podolnjak (MOST) said that the Parliament had been deconstituted after the resignation of Speaker Božo Petrov. Peđa Grbin (SDP) responded by saying that nothing had been deconstituted and that the only issue is who will preside over the parliamentary session. It is expected that he will propose that the Parliament should appoint an interim Speaker who would have limited authority.

The first round of consultations is over. The talks with the larger parties will continue in the afternoon.

Tomislav Saucha, who gave the key vote in favour of the government yesterday, will not come to the consultations due to health issues, but will talk with the President over the phone.

Goran Aleksić (SNAGA):
“It would be best for HDZ and SDP to form a government together, that is the only way to solve the crisis. I will not take part in any slim parliamentary majority.”

Željko Lacković, who previously said he would vote against Finance Minister Marić, but then changed his mind yesterday:
“I have been part of the majority, and I will continue to support it. The government must be a functional one, that is in the interest of Croatia.”

Bruna Esih, independent MP elected on HDZ’s candidate list:
“As I have said previously, I support the government, but not unconditionally.”

Consultations with the President have started, first with independent MPs and representatives of smaller parties. They mostly support the government and say that new elections should not be held, adding that it will be easier to form a new majority after the local elections are over.


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