HSS to Support Plenković and HDZ-led Government

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Surprising decision by a member of the SDP-led coalition.

HSS president Krešo Beljak announced on Tuesday evening that the party presidency had decided that HSS’s five MPs would give their signatures of support to HDZ president Andrej Plenković to become Prime Minister-Designate and would support HDZ’s government during the first 100 days in power, report Novi List, Jutarnji List and Večernji List on September 21, 2016.

“This is something which has not been yet seen in Croatian politics, since we are an opposition party that will give 100 days to Plenković to try to stabilize the government, and then he will no longer have our support”, said Beljak, adding that the party would not demand anything in return. “Our coalition partners will remain our partners, we will work together in opposition. I do not think that HDZ or SDP are surprised. The only party which is surprised is MOST, since they will no longer be able to blackmail HDZ as they wanted”, said Beljak.

In recent days, Beljak has been under strong pressure from within HSS, because he was the one who advocated for HSS to leave HDZ coalition before the elections and cross over to SDP, which was at the time expected to form the next government. However, after HDZ achieved a surprisingly good result at the elections, it became clear that SDP and its partners would have to stay in opposition. Some prominent HSS members have therefore demanded that Beljak submits his resignation as party president. They say that the latest decision is just an attempt by Beljak to survive internal party election which are expected to take place next month.

HSS’s decision has shocked its coalition partners, SDP and HNS. Siniša Hajdaš Dončić (SDP) was first to react. “This is a betrayal of the ideals of the People’s Coalition. This says a lot about Beljak and confirms that HSS is a party which is always ready to switch sides.” HNS president Ivan Vrdoljak said his party would not do the same. “We should not analyze other people’s decisions. We do not have any problems within the party. Government belongs to HDZ and MOST, and they should form it. We will certainly not participate in it and we will not give them our support”, said Vrdoljak.

Orsat Miljenić, one of candidates for SDP president, said that Beljak had deceived voters. “Of course, each party has the right to decide its own political direction, but they do not have the right to deceive voters. SDP will be a strong opposition to HDZ and its old and new satellites. This behaviour only further contributes to the already pervasive mistrust which citizens have of political parties”, said Miljenić.

HDZ had no official reaction, but unofficially they say that everybody is welcome to support the government led by Andrej Plenković, and add that MOST will remain HDZ’s strategic partner.

MOST leader Božo Petrov also gave his reaction. “Everyone has the right to support from Parliament the government led by HDZ and MOST. However, this will not change MOST’s attitude to HDZ and negotiations. We are first and foremost interested in our guarantees that will demonstrate that Croatia can become a more democratic and better organized state. Everyone can support this, but Beljak will certainly not be able to stop MOST”, said Petrov.

According to analysts, HSS’s decision weakens the position of MOST in coalition negotiations with HDZ, since HDZ could now form a government even without its 13 MPs.


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