Parliamentary Majority (Not) in Question?

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Although HDZ will probably succeed in getting rid of Dalija Orešković, the current chairwoman of the Conflict of Interest Commission, yesterday’s parliamentary failure brings into question the stability of the ruling coalition.

On Friday, the Parliament failed to elect the new chairwoman of the Conflict of Interest Commission. HDZ’s candidate Nataša Novaković did not receive the necessary 76 votes, just like the outgoing chairwoman Dalija Orešković. Novaković received 75 votes, which means that she needed just one more vote to head the commission. On the other hand, only 46 MPs voted for Orešković, who is believed to be supported mostly by opposition MPs, reports on February 17, 2018.

Although HDZ failed to gather the majority of votes on Friday, the party’s parliamentary caucus leader Branko Bačić tried to persuade the journalists that the government had not lost the majority. He also said that the ruling parties had reached an agreement on the candidate, but missed the necessary threshold for just one vote. The parliamentary majority usually has 78 MPs on its side, so it is presumed that three MPs failed to vote as expected. However, the election was by a secret ballot, so it is not known who they were.

When journalists asked Bačić if he had assurances from his political partners that they would have enough votes, he responded that “the parliamentary majority has already been confirmed a hundred times.” That is true, but there was a significant difference this time around. Unlike in all previous instances, this vote was a secret one. So, nobody really knows who from the ruling majority failed to vote for Novaković.

Until now, HDZ usually had 78 votes in favour of major decisions. There are rumours that several MPs from HNS have disregarded the instructions, while others say that three MPs from the Serbian national minority party SDSS were the reason why the vote failed. Of course, there is also the possibility that some HDZ members voted against party recommendations.

Anyway, this is an awkward political situation for prime minister and HDZ president Andrej Plenković. The Commission, while led by Orešković, has ruled against many prominent politicians. Probably the most important was the case of then HDZ president Tomislav Karamarko, who resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and brought down the government in 2016 after the Commission ruled against him. Karamarko later filed an appeal at the High Administrative Court, but it rejected his request.

Another important case for the Commission was the one against President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. In October last year, the President harshly criticised the Commission after it was announced that it could again investigate the President’s private birthday party allegedly organised by controversial football boss Zdravko Mamić. The President publicly told Orešković “to stop with the personal war” against her.

The Commission was not lenient towards SDP’s ministers as well. For example, Health Minister Siniša Varga was fined because he authorised government funds to be given to an NGO which he had previously founded. At the time of the SDP-led government, Orešković also punished Culture Minister Andreja Zlatar Violić and Defence Minister Ante Kotromanović for conflict of interest.

Translated from


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