The Bridge party is continuing on Sunday talks with the Social Democratic Party-led (SDP) Croatia Is Growing coalition, which has agreed to its terms, SDP president Zoran Milanovic will no longer be prime minister, and he and Bridge president Bozo Petrov expect to have a candidate for the prime minister-designate by Tuesday, either a non-partisan one or from Bridge's ranks.
Speaking to the press after a meeting on Saturday evening, Petrov said they did not discuss a candidate for the prime minister-designate, while Milanovic recalled that he had already suggested Petrov for the office because he had "a certain legitimacy," which was important for a PM.
Petrov thanked the Croatia Is Growing coalition for the cooperation so far, saying it had agreed to Bridge's terms, while the Croatian Democratic Union-led (HDZ) Patriotic Coalition had not.
He said Bridge and Croatia Is Growing had three more days of talks ahead, voicing hope that they would be successful and that they would have a candidate for the prime minister-designate and "all other matters finished" by Tuesday.
"No names of prime ministers-designate were on the table. We talked about the format of and how we see the next government," Petrov said after the two-hour meeting with the SDP.
Milanovic said talks on the functioning of the executive authority and parliament would continue on Sunday morning. "This is a good attempt for the country to get the executive authority, for the government to continue working because the government currently has no work and is involved only in political combinations."
He said the economic indicators were better than ever in the past six years and that this must not be left to chance. He added that if they reached an agreement with Bridge, they would present this agreement to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Tuesday.
Responding to questions from the press, Petrov said the Patriotic Coalition was completely out of the combination. "Our terms were very clear. Yesterday we set such a framework and it was known that we would end talks with the side which did not sign a statement. That's it."
He said the talks would now address a non-partisan prime minister-designate or one from Bridge. Milanovic confirmed that, saying his coalition would try to convince Bridge to go for the second option.
"I'll no longer be prime minister. That's over," Milanovic said, adding that being PM was not a routine job, but "the first and foremost among non-equals who are also important." He said the PM had by far the biggest responsibility in the state, which is why he must have political legitimacy, while parliament was there to support the government.
Asked in which office he saw himself, Milanovic said he did not see himself in any office. "I'll do a serious job. I'll see, we'll agree."
He would not comment on the HDZ-led coalition's walking out of the talks, saying they would not sign Bridge's terms. He refuted the HDZ's criticism that the talks were about the division of offices, saying, "It's not quite like that."
"We are beginning talks on government formation in good faith. We're optimistic. There's no going back," he wrote on Facebook later.
HDZ president Tomislav Karamarko very soon left the meeting at the offices of the Bridge party at which he, Petrov and Milanovic were to sign an agreement on a tripartite government, saying that, in line with HDZ Presidency decisions and his conscience, he could not put "a blank signature" on such a poorly defined document on "the distribution of spoils and positions."
"We believe that it is a poorly defined agreement on a coalition in which there are no mechanisms at all and nothing is known. It all boils down to the distribution of spoils and positions, even in public companies," Karamarko said.