zoran milanović.jpg
Photograph: EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic on Monday said in the President's Office that he was convinced the "Croatia Is Growing" coalition would obtain a majority in parliament and that Stipe Petrina supported that coalition.

"I believe that in the end we will convene parliament and the government," Milanovic told reporters after conducting consultations with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, adding that the process was progressing slowly, but that this was no different to other countries in Europe. "There's no need for panic or a state of emergency," he added.

During his talks with the President he heard that his coalition would have Petrina's support, who was elected to parliament on the Bridge's slate of independent candidates. Milanovic did not wish to comment on the possibility of the President calling an early election as no-one had the support of the necessary 76 MPs to be prime minister-designate.

The greatest pressure is on law makers and not the Constitutional Court or constitutional experts, Milanovic said. "It is MPs who have to agree on convening parliament and then if need be to dissolve it," he said, claiming that the intention of the Constitution is "for nothing to be above Parliament."

"The fairest thing would be for parliamentarians to get together and then decide to go to a new election or for the entire Bridge party to opt for, let's say, the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union), if that is a good thing," he added.

He reiterated the position the SDP-led coalition stated during today's meeting with Bridge and Patriotic Coalition, namely that the Croatia Is Growing coalition could not form a coalition with any political option that contains people accused of grave crimes. Asked by reporters whether that meant that a grand coalition was possible he said, "Let's take this slow, step by step, I need to consult with my party first because I wasn't authorised for something like that."

Reporters queried however, how it was possible to go into coalition with the Croatian People's Party (HNS) whose member Andro Vlahusic has been convicted, while Milanovic replied that that did not refer to a grave crime.

He added that he was aware of all the comments and the weight of the entire situation in that regard, stressing however that the easiest thing would be to be a yes-man and adapt to any situation. "We aren't like that," he added.

Milanovic said that it was not important who was the relative winner at the parliamentary election as the Constitution does not recognise the notion of a relative political winner. "The Constitution recognises the division of seats in parliament as a pre-condition to allocate seats and until that occurs the President cannot appoint prime minister designate. That could go on for several months, that is pressurising parliamentarians to make a decision and not just to join anyone. Let them convene and then dissolve and face the Croatian people once again. Is that fair? Yes it is," he said.

Milanovic considers Bridge's condition of an independent prime minister designate and deputy prime minister and parliament speaker from one of the coalitions,  to be "an awkward way of discussing positions," and added that he could not see how that can be implemented. 

Asked to comment Bridge chief Bozo Petrov's claim that a meeting held earlier today and attended by both Milanovic and HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko was historic, Milanovic said that this wasn't the first time the two had sat together. "Perhaps we could have done so more often but we didn't," he added.

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