President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has the authority to call an early election even prior to parliament being constituted and only she is authorised to convene parliament for a new inaugural session, according to the unanimous opinion of five constitutional law professors with whom the President met on Monday.
"We were unanimous and we are satisfied because the President has assured us that she will strictly adhere to the Constitution, and that was our objective," Zvonimir Lauc from the Osijek Faculty of Law said.
The experts unanimously agreed that the President cannot appoint anyone prime minster-designate unless they have a majority support in parliament.
Mato Palic, also from the Osijek faculty, explained that parliament cannot be constituted after the President calls for an early election because she convenes parliament for a new inaugural session.
"As the inaugural session was held but interrupted, that means that according to the Constitution and parliament's Standing Orders, the president has exclusive authority to convene a new inaugural session and she will not do so if, after negotiations and consultations, she assesses that there will not be an appropriate majority to constitute parliament," Palic said.
When questioned by reporters, Palic reiterated that the incumbent parliament speaker, Josip Leko, can no longer convene the continuation of the session that was interrupted on December 3. "That session could have been continued that same day, only until midnight," said Palic.
Sanja Baric from the Rijeka Law Faculty said that the President can call an extraordinary parliamentary election even before parliament is constituted. "What is more important, as it seems that a dispute is being created over this, is that even if parliament is constituted, the President can call an early election if a prime-minister designate is not appointed... And we all agree on that point."
"We have all agreed over the legal aspect and... now we will see how things will unfold. A possible decision (on an early election) could be made around Christmas. That is not a date for a possible new election but when a decision could be made," she added.
All five professors were agreed with regard to the government's status, regardless of whether a new election is called prior to or after parliament is constituted. They believe that a non-partisan interim government should be in office. "An interim, non-partisan government appointed by the President, not the current caretaker government (headed by Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic)", Baric said.
She underscored that the experts all were agreed that Croatia is not in a crisis but in regular procedure, even though a situation of this nature has never yet occurred.
Professor Lauc underscored that they had not made any suggestions to the President and her status is "very clearly defined" and "she will certainly know how to act 'lege artis'."
"It is important to tell citizens that the Constitution will be adhered to, at least that's my impression. We were given firm guarantees of that from the President's Office," said Baric.