MOST’s final decision on the fate of Finance Minister Zdravko Marić is causing concern in HDZ. Nobody knows how MOST’s MPs will vote, and their votes will decide the outcome. It is quite possible that they will vote for the minister’s dismissal, reports Večernji List on April 24, 2017.
Not even MOST itself knows what it will do. The party has still not taken a position on the responsibility of Finance Minister Zdravko Marić regarding the crisis in Agrokor, where he worked for years before becoming the minister. MOST’s MP Tomislav Panenić said that Marić would have to respond in detail to all the accusations against him. It seems that MOST is hoping that the minister will realize himself that he is too heavy a burden for the government and resign, which would solve the crisis.
However, MOST is afraid to once again cause the fall of government and early parliamentary elections, and MOST’s vote against the HDZ’s minister would certainly have such an outcome. That seems to be the main argument of HDZ, which claims that the fall of government a few days before the local elections in May would be a disaster for both HDZ and MOST. “It would be a political suicide before the elections,” said one HDZ presidency member. He believes that MOST will not decide on such a move at this time, but that everything is possible after the elections in May, particularly if investigations regarding Agrokor would prove that Marić did something wrong in Agrokor.
In such a situation, Marić could hardly hope to retain the support of his own party as well. For now, the only thing which has been proven against Marić is that he has received a loan under privileged terms from the Croatian Postal Bank while he was a member of the bank’s Supervisory Board. But, there is nothing illegal there and it is only the issue of moral responsibility of the minister.
If MOST were to decide to support the opposition’s initiative and not wait for specific evidence of Marić’s guilt, that would lead to paralysis of the HDZ-MOST government. There are few people who believe that the government could survive that.
There are again rumours about possible coalition reshuffle in Parliament. HNS is denying that it might replace MOST as part of the ruling coalition. They point out that they have signed the initiative for Marić’s dismissal and that their opinion has not and will not change. Even in HDZ, there are few people who believe in such an outcome. Although some sources do not reject such a possibility, the fact is that they have not yet discussed it with HNS and probably will not do it at this stage given that it would be difficult to imagine how HDZ would explain to its others cooperation with HNS ahead of local elections.
Opposition led by SDP has filed a motion for no confidence vote against Marić. The vote has to take place prior to local elections.
If all this sounds familiar, it is. Similar events occurred last year, when SDP filed a motion for no confidence vote against then HDZ president and Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko. MOST eventually supported the motion, Karamarko resigned prior to the vote and brought down the government. He attempted to do a coalition reshuffle (reportedly with HNS replacing MOST), but did not succeed. Interestingly, in the short period while the reshuffle was rumoured about, it was Marić who was HDZ’s candidate for new prime minister.