At the 17th electoral convention of the ruling HDZ party, held in Zagreb on Saturday, Milijan Brkic was elected deputy party leader as the only candidate for that post, having won the votes of 1,601 of more than 1,800 delegates attending the event.

Oleg Butkovic, Tomislav Tolusic, Ivana Maletic, Tomislav Culjak, Darko Horvat and Josip Bilaver were elected party vice-presidents.

Butkovic won the most votes of all 14 candidates for the six party vice-presidents, 1,270.

Among 32 candidates, HDZ delegates elected HDZ Presidency members Ivan Anusic, Pero Cosic, Josip Krizanic, Zarko Tusek, Zlatko Hasanbegovic, Anton Kliman, Darko Milinovic, Bozidar Longin, Zlatko Zevrnja and Zeljko Turk.

Hasanbegovic won the most votes, 1,227, followed by Milinovic (1,210) and Tusek (1,100).

The party delegates also elected members of the HDZ Main Committee, thus ending the electoral process that began more than a month ago with the re-election of Tomislav Karamarko as party leader.

Addressing party delegates at the end of the convention late on Saturday evening, Karamarko said: "The party is moving on... Our victory in (the parliamentary) elections was a victory with a thorn in our side and that will be dealt with. No one will ignore or humiliate or blackmail the HDZ," said Karamarko.

Oleg Butkovic, elected as an HDZ vice-president with the largest number of votes, said after the election he hoped that the Bridge party, the HDZ's partner in the government, would change its mind about the opposition SDP party's proposal for a parliamentary vote of no confidence in Karamarko over conflict of interest allegations.

"If they have any sense, they will change their mind," Butkovic told reporters.

Darko Milinovic, another newly-elected HDZ vice-president, was asked what position the new party presidency would take on Karamarko and if he could remain First Deputy Prime Minister, to which he said: "Tomislav Karamarko must remain First Deputy Prime Minister because that is the only way this government can continue working. If not, there will be an early election."

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