The leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and of the Croatia Is Growing coalition, Zoran Milanovic, said after consultations with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Thursday that as a candidate for Prime Minister-Designate he had 66 signatures of support of elected MPs, which was not sufficient for him to be given the mandate to form a government, and that therefore he would continue talks with the Bridge reformist coalition.

In a statement to reporters after consultations with the president, which lasted only 10 minutes, Milanovic said that consultations would continue on December 7 and that President Grabar-Kitarovic would call the first session of the 8th parliament a few days before the expiry of the constitutional deadline, December 13.

Accompanying Milanovic at the consultations in the president's offices were the leader of the Croatian People's Party (HNS), Vesna Pusic, Labour Party leader Nansi Tireli and Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) leader Silvano Hrelja.

"Everything is clear for now; as a candidate for Prime Minister-Designate I have 66 signatures, which is not enough. We will see how many the others have. And we will proceed with negotiations, with talks. The second round of consultations has been set for December 7," said Milanovic, adding, "Of course, we can't do without Bridge."

The Prime Minister-Designate has to have the support of 76 MPs and Milanovic is short of 10 signatures.

He believes that talks with Bridge would end well in that regard.

"We would like the entire Bridge and I said so in the election night, so that we can start discussing Croatia's future," Milanovic said, confirming that Bridge members would be part of his government if he was appointed PM.

"You don't have to side with anyone, join in," he said in a message to Bridge.

Milanovic would not speculate on whether some Bridge members would support the Croatia Is Growing coalition or whether some would withhold their support.

Commenting on minority MPs, namely the fact that Mirko Raskovic of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) did not support his coalition, Milanovic said that he had not exerted pressure on anyone.

After consultations with the president, Raskovic told reporters that he had been pressured by SDSS members to support Milanovic.

"Contrary to what my predecessors did, it is not my policy to fish for minority votes, one by one. Six minority MPs have supported me with their signatures, I don't want to prejudge if more will do so. I don't exert pressure on anyone," Milanovic said, stressing that he had not even known Raskovic until a week ago.

He added that he expected favourable economic indicators to be published on Friday, showing a much higher growth rate in the third quarter than the one in the second quarter.

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