Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenkovic said in an interview with Croatian Radio on Saturday he was confident that he would receive the support of more than 80 elected members of parliament to form the new government, calling on the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) to renew its cooperation with the HDZ.

Plenkovic believes that the new government will have the stable support of more than 80 MPs and that this time around the HDZ would be backed by a much wider range of parties.

"The Bridge party is open to cooperation, and I am sure that the two MPs from the party of (Zagreb mayor) Milan Bandic and the representatives of the ethnic minorities are also open to cooperation. I think that there will also be some of our partners who ran in the election in the People's Coalition," Plenkovic said, alluding to the HSS.

He said that the HSS, a member of the European People's Party, was the most important partner to the HDZ, expressing a wish that it would return to "its political family".

"The HSS is our only cousin in the political sense, all others are our partners," Plenkovic said. He added that the decision by HSS leader Kreso Beljak to run in the election in the People's Coalition was not very wise, noting that although the HSS now had more seats in parliament, a large number of HSS member were dissatisfied with their leader's decision.

Plenkovic said that he had excellent cooperation with the HSS's Marijana Petir in the European Parliament, and that former HSS chief Branko Hrg achieved a solid election result on the HDZ slate in Constituency 2. "As far as I am concerned, our door is open to cooperation. ... That would be good and I think that HSS voters and members would also support that."

Asked to comment on the demand by some of the leaders of ethnic minorities that Zlatko Hasanbegovic should not continue as culture minister in the new government, Plenkovic said it was up to a prime minister-designate to decide who would run which government department.

"At this stage I have a pleasant task to choose among competent colleagues who have each performed a certain role. Mr Hasanbegovic is one of the candidates. As a member of the HDZ Presidency he can make a quality contribution to the party. As for ministerial portfolios, we'll see about that later," the HDZ leader said.

He would not discuss the distribution of portfolios in the future government or the names of potential ministers, but revealed that the future Cabinet would have more deputy prime ministers.

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