The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Bridge party continued their talks on government formation on Wednesday, discussing the distribution of portfolios.
Speaking to reporters after almost six hours of talks, Bridge said that they would make a final decision on Thursday after a meeting of their National Council, while the HDZ said that they could gather the necessary 76 signatures even without Bridge but that that was "not a priority" at the moment.
"Today we have discussed in great detail the structure of the future government, the distribution of portfolios. My impression is that we are very close to a final agreement. Our goal is to present the solutions we have reached to our respective parties in the next two days," HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic said.
President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has scheduled the next round of consultations for Monday, and Plenkovic said that he would go there with "more signatures than necessary".
"By then we will have a clear situation regarding the agreement between Bridge and the HDZ, and we will show to the President that we have the necessary number of signatures for her to give us the mandate to form the government," he added.
Asked if the HDZ would form the new government with Bridge or without them, Plenkovic said he hoped that it would be with Bridge.
Asked if there was a possibility of the HDZ going to the consultations in a different configuration, Plenkovic said "that's also on the table" but "it's not a priority".
Bridge leader Bozo Petrov said: "We discussed proposals put forward by both sides. We exchanged our proposals, and it will be interesting to see what the Bridge National Council will say (on Thursday)." He added that an agreement on "the whole package" should be in place by Friday.
Asked if there was a chance of talks with the HDZ failing, Petrov said that there was always such a possibility, but added: "What I can say is that the talks over the last three weeks have been positive and constructive and hopefully they will end that way."
Petrov would not say if he would propose at the National Council meeting that he should be a deputy prime minister or speaker of parliament.
"If the HDZ and Bridge confirm the understanding we have reached by Friday, I think we will be able to begin the process of parliament and government formation next week," Petrov said.
Asked if there were any disagreements over who would be the parliament speaker, Plenkovic said that they were seeking solutions that would satisfy both parties.
Responding to questions from the press, Plenkovic reiterated that he would meet with representatives of the ethnic minorities on Thursday and that he expected signatures of support from all of them.