Zvonko Kusić, Branko Hrvatin, Zoran Milanović, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović i Jasna Omejec.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ / mm

The first attempt to inaugurate the eighth Croatian parliament failed on Thursday after Robert Podolnjak of the Bridge reformist party turned down a proposal by 55 deputies of the SDP-led Croatia Is Growing coalition to appoint him as Parliament Speaker following the refusal from the Patriotic Coalition, led by the HDZ party, to support him.

Since Podolnjak's nomination was the only nomination for the position of Parliament Speaker, Branimir Glavas of the HDSSB party asked that Podolnjak state if he accepted his candidacy, to which Podolnjak said that Bridge had already announced that it would accept the nomination only if it was backed by deputies of both the SDP-led and the HDZ-led coalition.

"We said that we would accept the candidacy for Parliament Speaker if it is supported by the two biggest political camps, and they each have more than a third of parliamentary seats. At the moment we do not know what will happen since the representative of the deputies of the Patriotic Coalition has not made their position known. We expect them to state it and if they, too, support the proposal that has been put forward, I will accept the candidacy and we will take a vote, if the Patriotic Coalition too supports it," said Podolnjak.

After Davorin Mlakar of the HDZ said that their club of deputies did not accept the SDP's proposal, Podolnjak turned down his nomination, to which Parliament Speaker Josip Leko adjourned the session, saying that the parliament would reconvene when the majority needed to inaugurate it and the government was formed.

The failed attempt to inaugurate the parliament was preceded by negotiations between Bridge and the two coalitions on Wednesday. SDP leader and PM Zoran Milanovic said Bridge's negotiators were told at the talks with SDP negotiators that the SDP still believed that the parliament speaker should be from Bridge.

"We cannot allow a period of interregnum in Croatia, when there is no interregnum. The country has a government, it can continue having that government for months but it is important that the parliament is inaugurated so that the government, regardless of its being unofficially a caretaker government, can cooperate with the parliament, regardless of who the prime minister designate is and whether the new government has been appointed. I still believe that it would be fair if Mr Podolnjak, as the person explicitly mentioned yesterday, is appointed Parliament Speaker," Milanovic told reporters while arriving for today's parliament session.

He accused the HDZ of a lack of transparency. "At least it is evident that we have been playing by our clear and transparent rules all along, that the HDZ is scared and that they did not have the strength to look people in the eyes the whole time yesterday afternoon and say 'yes' or 'no', but were playing hillbilly poker," Milanovic said.

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