The leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Andrej Plenkovic, on Wednesday expressed confidence that after a few more days of talks, his party would have the signatures of support of the minimum 76 elected members of Parliament needed to form a government.
"I believe that the talks held so far make the HDZ, as the relative but convincing winner of the parliamentary election, fairly confident that after a few more days of talks it will have more than the 76 signatures of support which, under the Constitution, are necessary to form a new government," Plenkovic told reporters after consultations held at President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's office.
He said that he and his party colleagues informed Grabar-Kitarovic of the course of negotiations with the Bridge party and elected representatives of ethnic minorities.
Expressing optimism about those negotiations, Plenkovic said that talks would continue on specific items defined by Bridge and on programme guidelines for the work of the future government, as well as on the composition of the new government.
Asked when he would have enough signatures, the HDZ chief said that it would happen in the next few days.
Asked about the request by Serb minority MP Milorad Pupovac that Serb representatives be appointed to public companies, Plenkovic said that as far as the government make-up was concerned, government ministers should be appointed by the HDZ and Bridge.
He added, however, that the HDZ's negotiating team was informed by the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) of that request but that no concrete agreement had been reached nor was there any fixed quota in that regard. "We shall discuss it," he said.
Plenkovic believes that the SDSS wants Serb representatives to have certain influence in some public companies that are relevant to it given the companies' scope of activity and the geographical distribution of the Serb ethnic minority in Croatia.
"It is the HDZ's wish to see to it that after elections representatives of ethnic minorities are in a position to support the new Croatian government as a rule. (It is the HDZ's wish to see to it that) an atmosphere of tolerance and dialogue is created in society and that the protection of minority rights is incorporated in the government's future platform. That is what we are doing now and it seems, judging by the negotiations, that we have clear support and that our position has been received well by all eight elected representatives of ethnic minorities," he said.
Asked how negotiations with Bridge were proceeding, he said that they were proceeding well and in line with both parties' election results.
He said that in the coming days the two parties would continue talks on a strategic partnership for a stable government with a four-year term.
Regarding speculation by Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Kresimir Beljak after today's consultations that the HDZ would not present President Grabar-Kitarovic with signatures but would rather seek support based on statements by leaders of political parties at consultations, Plenkovic said that the HDZ acted in line with the Constitution and wanted the president to have clear guarantees that were best expressed with signatures of elected MPs, of which the minimum number must be 76.
"We do not want any dilemmas or speculation," he said.
Plenkovic went on to say that he talked to Beljak today personally, asking him to specify the HSS's position given that it was being interpreted differently by the media.
"As I understand it, the HSS is willing to give its five signatures to the HDZ and the future prime minister-designate but it does not want those signatures to be deciding in obtaining the required minimum of 76 signatures," said Plenkovic.
Asked if after finishing negotiations with Bridge he would also talk with Milan Bandic, leader of the Bandic Milan 365 - The Party of Work and Solidarity, Plenkovic expressed satisfaction that Bandic was open to dialogue.
He said that the HDZ would also hold talks with all the other political parties that had entered the parliament and wanted to talk with the HDZ.
Plenkovic said that he had not talked personally with Croatian People's Party (HNS) leader Ivan Vrdoljak but that there had been contacts between some members of his party and HNS members.
However, there were no concrete agreements regarding signatures or a possible coalition because it was neither the HDZ's nor the HNS's wish and the two parties have made their positions on the matter very clear, said Plenkovic.