The main committee of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Saturday unanimously assessed the possibility of forming a tripartite alliance with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Bridge party as unfeasible and once again supported the party's leader Zoran Milanovic as Prime Minister-designate.
Milanovic told the press after the meeting that this did not mean that they had refused Bridge, but the HDZ.
"This is not a rejection. As far as we are concerned, we are continuing talks. Bridge will decide on their own who actually rejected them, humiliated them, tried to eliminate them, who is trying to undermine them in their constituencies, and who is their partner and friend and is offering cooperation," Milanovic said.
He said that the SDP's main committee had adopted its conclusions, including one supporting further talks between the SDP-led Croatia Is Growing coalition and Bridge, "practically without debate", adding that "the door of cooperation" remained opened to Bridge.
"We must say this publicly, we cannot (enter into a coalition) with the HDZ the way it is today. Such a proposal is untenable and it's unbelievable to me that it comes from Bridge, which was formed on a platform of resistance to the HDZ at the local level," the SDP leader said, adding that he was appalled to hear on television about an attempted murder of a Bridge member a while ago.
"It's one thing to be Christian and to forgive and another to say something like that and pretend that it didn't happen. It's all clear. Someone here is trying to rescue the HDZ, this is a rescue operation for the HDZ and Tomislav Karamarko by some people, not all people, from Bridge and some people outside Bridge. The HDZ, the way it is now, should spend another four years in opposition," Milanovic said.
Milanovic recalled that the SDP had proposed Bridge's Robert Podolnjak as a candidate for Speaker of Parliament. "The HDZ dismissed them very rudely, deciding not to tell them straight away but in the middle of the parliament session. We see this as the HDZ's rejection of Bridge. Our rejection of the HDZ is rejection of the HDZ and not of Bridge. Bridge is acceptable to us and with them we would like first to form a parliament and then a government that will continue doing what the incumbent government has been doing for the past four years, as could be well seen over the past year."
He dismissed the HDZ's view that the way the SDP was trying to form a new parliament was "a creeping coup d'etat." "Those used to scheming in the intelligence community see strong state institutions as a threat. I guess for them the Croatian parliament is a para-state, a coup d'etat, while for me it's the highest body of authority to which the government is accountable, which is above the government and certainly above the president of the republic. Forming a new parliament is in the interests of the Croatian state and all elected MPs who want to do their job and who don't want disorder and intriguing."
Milanovic reiterated that the Croatia Is Growing coalition enjoyed the support of the largest number of MPs, describing the idea of a non-partisan prime minister as bad. "We could see what happened in Europe when someone else or the European Commission appointed experts, non-party people to run governments. It ended up badly for those countries, their economy and their political culture."
"If the HDZ clearly said that it was disowning or distancing itself from certain people, we would consider negotiating with it. Our people who have been accused of minor crimes compared with what leading HDZ officials have been charged with are not on the SDP's election slates," he said, adding that he was confident that some of those people were honest, but that he did not want to go against the institutions of the state.
Responding to questions from the press, Milanovic said that the SDP currently enjoyed the support of 67 deputies in the 151-seat parliament. Asked if with its conclusions the SDP had actually cleared the way for cooperation between Bridge and the HDZ, he said that this question should be addressed to Bridge leader Bozo Petrov. "I don't know. I don't see a majority there, but I may be wrong," he said, adding that this entire process would take some more time.