While it is still a long-shot, this time it is not completely impossible.
A grand coalition, in which HDZ and SDP would form a joint government, is no longer impossible. In their latest statements, leaders of both parties, HDZ president Andrej Plenković and SDP president Zoran Milanović, have left the door ajar for such a possibility, reports Jutarnji List on August 3, 2016.
Since the election campaign has just started, it cannot be expected that party leaders will now talk openly about their readiness to join forces after the elections, however, it is becoming more obvious that such a possibility does exist. And it could very well happen if the results are similar to the last elections, when both coalitions, SDP’s Croatia Is Growing coalition and HDZ’s Patriotic Coalition, failed to win enough seats to form a stable government. Last year, they decided to enter into difficult negotiations with MOST, which ultimately made a coalition with HDZ. How successful their cooperation was is best demonstrated by the fact that the government collapsed within six months, for the first time in Croatia’s history.
At present, there are two major reasons why leaders of both parties could be willing to enter into a grand coalition. The first is that in 2017 Croatia will have to pay as much as 30 billion kuna in external debt. The second reason is connected with the first, given that credit rating agencies consider that the next Croatian government could be as unstable as the current one, which could have negative consequences for Croatia’s credit rating. It is quite unlikely that HDZ or SDP could achieve a decisive victory. One of the solutions would be a coalition between one of the two major parties and MOST. However, given the experience, it is quite possible that such new government would also not last long.
“At the moment, the People’s Coalition is the right solution for Croatia, but no one knows what will happen tomorrow. It depends on the result of the elections”, said SDP president Zoran Milanović in an interview on Monday, tellingly not excluding the possibility of a grand coalition. HDZ president Andrej Plenković chose his words carefully when speaking about SDP. “For me, SDP’s government was not an anti-national government. They are a Croatian political party which advocates its views. At this point, I believe that a grand coalition is not on the agenda”, said said Plenković in recent days.
If the composition of the next Parliament shows that potential government would be unstable, it is realistic to expect pressure from the European Union to form a grand coalition. However, leaders of both parties will have to face the attitude of their members and voters towards such an alliance.
In informal conversations, HDZ leadership members have been discussing possible grand coalition ever since the last elections, especially during the times of conflicts with MOST. Many HDZ members supported a grand coalition immediately after the fall of the current government, when polls showed that HDZ’s popularity was in freefall, but it is interesting that they did not stop talking about it even now, when polls shows that HDZ has managed to restore almost all of its previously lost support.
“I think we can achieve a good result in the elections, but it would be difficult to form a government without MOST. And we have already seen that it is very difficult to work with them”, said a source close to HDZ president Plenković. HDZ has bad experiences from its cooperation with MOST and that is the major reason why they are not completely against a possible coalition with SDP. In SDP, there are also influential members who are talking about a grand coalition.