The Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) will run in the forthcoming early parliamentary election in a coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the party's Main Committee decided at a meeting in Jastrebarsko, just southwest of Zagreb, late on Thursday evening.

The decision was made by 87 votes in favour, 13 against and five abstentions, HSS leader Kreso Beljak said after the meeting. He added that the party would run in elections for the European Parliament in 2019 also with the SDP and its coalition partners.

"The decision was made by a majority of votes. I said before the meeting that I would not allow a split in the party. If the decision had been made by a lesser majority, we would not have approved it, but would run in the election on our own. This overwhelming majority gives us the right to say that we have made a good decision, both for the country and for the HSS, which has been devastated in all aspects over the last 10 years and which needs change," Beljak told Hina.

He said that the party would continue to focus on "the preservation of Croatian rural areas and the Croatian family as the nucleus of society."

Asked what the SDP had offered the HSS, Beljak said that they had not discussed government posts, but programmes, adding that they would discuss details of the election platform in the coming days. He said he did not know when the coalition agreement would be signed.

The SDP has allegedly offered the HSS the post of Deputy Prime Minister, the Ministry of Agriculture and four or five seats in Parliament.

Beljak did not confirm that. Asked if he was ready to take up the post of Deputy Prime Minister or Minister of Agriculture, he said that he would first concentrate on achieving the best possible election result and "we will discuss positions after the election."

The HSS member of the European Parliament and member of the Main Committee, Marijana Petir, said earlier that an HSS-SDP coalition was unacceptable to her because the two parties had "substantially different value systems".

The HSS Main Committee has 134 members and a quorum was ensured by 110 members.

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