HDZ Looking for New Coalition Partners?

Total Croatia News

MOST is worried that HDZ might again attempt a “coalition reshuffle”.

Vesna Pusić, honorary president of HNS, former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in the government of Zoran Milanović, visited government’s headquarters last Thursday to meet with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, reports Jutarnji List on February 14, 2017.

The topic of the meeting was related to the United Nations and her possible further ambitions there, after having failed to become the UN secretary general. The meeting was arranged at the Plenković’s initiative. Since the meeting took place just a day before the vote of no confidence against Science and Education Minister Pavo Barišić, and there were hints that MOST would not support him, but rather abstain from voting, MOST has started worrying that HDZ could try to substitute it with HNS and HSS as new members of the ruling coalition.

According to sources, HDZ is very unhappy with relations within the ruling coalition, because they cannot agree about almost anything with their junior partner. “There is growing tension between us and MOST, communication is not good, and decision-making is difficult”, said a member of HDZ leadership.

There are five main reasons for problems in relations between MOST and HDZ, which could lead to redefining of relations, and possibly to a coalition reshuffle or new elections. HDZ is angry at MOST because they have not agreed on cooperation for the local elections in May. The two parties cannot agree on appointment of management teams in state-owned companies. The latest conflict involves members of the Programme Council of Croatian Radio-Television. HDZ is also angry because MOST said it would demand the dismissal of Minister Barišić if it is proven that he plagiarized his doctoral thesis in Germany, and, finally, they are at odds over MOST’s initiative to open the archives from the communist times, which was allegedly also an HDZ’s idea.

That is why last week’s meeting between Plenković and Vesna Pusić was significant because many wonder why would the Prime Minister now show his interest in her possible further ambitions at the UN. However, Pusić denied they had discussed politics. “Prime Minister called me because he was interested in the whole process around my candidacy for UN Secretary General, and whether there will be something further in that direction”, said Pusić.

HNS leadership denies that it could do a reshuffle with HDZ, since that would only harm the party, adding that it would make more sense for Plenković, if HDZ has problems with MOST, to call new parliamentary elections. “HDZ’s popularity is increasing, MOST’s is falling, and SDP has still not consolidated its support. If I were in his shoes, I would rather go to new elections, and then anything is possible”, commented a senior member of HNS.

Ivan Vrdoljak, HNS president, also denies the possibility of a reshuffle with HDZ and HSS, a smaller opposition party. “HNS has been an opposition party for the last year. Regardless of a spin that says that we will do a reshuffle with HDZ, and another which says that MOST now wants closer cooperation with HNS, none of that is true”, said Vrdoljak.

HSS president Krešo Beljak also said that his party would not participate in a reshuffle. “I have never heard about such an idea. As for HSS, we will not participate in it”, said Vrdoljak. At the last parliamentary elections, both HNS and HSS were part of SDP-led coalition.

Sources within HDZ say that there will be no changes prior to local elections in May, but that later “anything is possible”. “People in the party are dissatisfied. The impression is that everything is progressing slowly and that the situation from the previous government is being repeated”, said a source. Last year, HDZ tried to substitute MOST with other parties to form a new parliamentary majority, but was not successful and early parliamentary elections were held in September.


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