Kreso Beljak, leader of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), a partner in the SDP-led People's Coalition, said after the first exit polls were published on Sunday evening that the HSS supported SDP leader Zoran Milanovic as the Prime Minister-designate to form the next government but that he would not be a member of a government that would include the Bridge party.
"The turnout was evidently very low, I thank all who have supported the People's Coalition and the HSS... The general assessment is that citizens have decided to give all politicians a non-passing grade. Those are people who abstained from voting. The public perception of politicians will have to change in the future because almost no politician is to citizens' liking," Beljak told reporters.
The HSS leader warned that exit polls showed that the final result would be even, after three seats of the Croatian diaspora were added to the HDZ and four seats won by the IDS party were added to the People's Coalition.
"We'll see what smaller parties will do, what conditions will be set," he added.
Asked if he could be in a coalition that would include Bridge, which he strongly criticised during the election campaign, Beljak answered in the negative. "I personally could not, but as a party we will unconditionally support Zoran Milanovic and will not ask for anything. We will support such a government, if they choose to form it with Bridge, so that Croatia can get a stable government. That is the most important thing now, personal interests must be set aside," he said.
SDP vice-president Mirando Mrsic said that his party was ready for post-election cooperation with all who supported its values, and "our course towards a better and safer Croatia."
Asked if a grand coalition was possible, he said that it did not seem likely at the moment.