zoran milanović.jpg
Photograph: EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic said on Friday that his party would collect the sufficient number of signatures from lawmakers, if MPs from the Bridge party joined them in this attempt.

"This is the moment of truth and the motives of all involved will become public in the next few days. Croatians are not laboratory mice. We are aware that mice in experiments carried out by the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union ) ... die in the end. Croatian citizens are not laboratory mice. 70% of citizens are increasingly in favour of (early) elections, and I think that we should respect that will for the sake of the Croatian people's will and interests," Milanovic told a press conference held in the parliament building.

The SDP is collecting signatures to launch proceedings for the 151-seat parliament to dissolve itself and the party needs a majority, that is the signatures of 76 lawmakers.

Without the Bridge party, the SDP counts on 64 and odd signatures.

"We keep counting on the Bridge party, and that would be above 76. We can then go to the polls for an early election," Milanovic said, adding that this would reflect the will of the Croatian people. He added that September would be a deadline for the early vote.

Asked to comment on claims from the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) that it had secured the sufficient number of votes (that is 76), to reshuffle the government, Milanovic said he would like to see that majority.

He accused the HDZ of resorting to immoral acts such as pressing "false police charges" against Opposition leaders in order to reach its goals. "Those people (HDZ) should not be trusted," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Bozo Petrov of the Bridge party said on Thursday that neither he nor Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic would step down and that the other Deputy Prime Minister, HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko, is the only one who should resign.

Petrov called on the HDZ to line up the 76 deputies allegedly supporting it in parliament for a government reshuffle or to nominate someone else to replace Karamarko as deputy prime minister, or else a snap election will be called.

Petrov recalled that the entire imbroglio had been caused by the "political responsibility of one man", referring to Karamarko and his alleged conflict of interest stemming from business ties between his wife Ana and their family friend Josip Petrovic, a lobbyist for Hungary's MOL, with which the Croatian government is in dispute over management rights and the investment strategy in Croatia's oil and gas group INA.

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