Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) official Davorin Mlakar said on Tuesday that negotiations on post-election cooperation between the HDZ and the Bridge party would begin on Wednesday, stressing that they would first address their programmes and reforms.

"We at the HDZ talked for more than two hours today about our programmes and how to approach the negotiations with Bridge. The first meeting is scheduled for tomorrow," Mlakar told the press after the meeting at HDZ headquarters.

He would not comment on the statement made by Bridge official Stipe Petrina earlier on Tuesday that for him HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko was "the personification of evil".

When asked if the HDZ was willing to offer Bridge the post of prime minister, Mlakar said that the HDZ would first discuss the programmes and reforms which it had been planning for three years and which it could now see were being advocated by other parties as well.

"Once we have agreed on a political platform for our cooperation, we will discuss posts," Mlakar said.

Asked to comment on media reports that the Social Democratic Party (SDP) had secured 66 seats in the 151-seat parliament (56 seats won by the party itself plus three seats from the Istrian Democratic Party and seven of the eight seats intended for the ethnic minorities), Mlakar said that according to his information the SDP and its coalition had as many seats as they won in the elections.

Mlakar said that the HDZ had not yet decided who would represent the party in negotiations with Bridge and would announce their decision on Wednesday.

Asked to comment on media reports that the HDZ was ready to renounce the post of prime minister and leave it to a non-partisan person, Mlakar said he had no such information. He stressed that the HDZ would insist on a government of experts.

"Considering the crisis the country is in, one of the basic pre-conditions to overcome the crisis is to form a government of experts who we believe can do that," Mlakar said, adding that it was too early to name any names.

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