Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenkovic said in his first address, after returns from polling stations showed that his party was in the clear lead, that the HDZ would launch concrete negotiations already on Monday to make sure that Croatia got "a stable HDZ-led government".
Preliminary results of Croatia's early parliamentary election, released late on Sunday night, showed that the HDZ won 61 seats in the 151-seat parliament, while its main rival, the People's Coalition led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP), captured 54 seats. The Bridge party came third with 12 seats.
Plenkovic thanked voters for their support to the HDZ as well as the HDZ candidates and partners for their performance.
Plenkovic said that the HDZ was open to cooperation with political parties with similar programmes and ideologies.
He announced a meeting of the HDZ leadership for Monday to hammer out a political platform for post-election negotiations.
According to Plenkovic, the next HDZ-led government would be stable and European-oriented and in this context he thanked the members of the European Parliament who supported the HDZ in the run-up to the vote.
The HDZ chief recalled that two months ago his party was "in an unenviable position". Plenkovic took the HDZ's helm in mid-July after his predecessor, Tomislav Karamarko, had failed to form a new HDZ-led government.
Plenkovic said that he then set positioning of the HDZ in the right-of-centre as his goal, and in this context he mentioned the legacy of the first Croatian President and the HDZ founder Franjo Tudjman.
"All of us made it in a short period... During the campaigning we introduced a new culture of communication and dialogue," Plenkovic said referring to the campaigning after he became the party's president.
The previous parliament dissolved in June after a political crisis which saw the parliamentary majority, for the first time in Croatia, topple its own government led by non-partisan Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic.
The HDZ-led Patriotic Coalition was the relative winner of the previous parliamentary election last November and formed the government with the Bridge party, but their cooperation was marred by conflicts which culminated in June when the HDZ, to avoid a parliamentary vote of confidence in its then president and First Deputy PM Karamarko, initiated the toppling of the government, which a parliamentary majority eventually did.
After that, the HDZ could not form a new majority without Bridge and parliament decided to dissolve.