Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, who on Saturday arrived in Zagreb's Vatroslav Lisinski concert hall where the ruling HDZ party was holding its electoral convention, told reporters that he had already stated his position on the proposal for the impeachment of his first deputy and HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko, that it was difficult for him to predict how the situation would develop and that it was "now up to the HDZ."

"It's difficult for me to say how the situation will develop, HDZ members will decide that. I am here today, I have come as Prime Minister. You know that the HDZ supported me, I made my position clear yesterday, the situation is now up to the party," said Oreskovic, who yesterday expressed support to Karamarko following allegations about his involvement in a corruption scandal.

Asked about the chances of the incumbent government staying in power, Oreskovic said that he was an optimist.

"We are here and we will stay here, I am confident of that."

As for public opinion polls, which show that most citizens are in favour of an early election, Oreskovic said that opinion polls were a reflection of the current perception. He recalled that a month ago there was talk of a parliamentary reshuffle, but that it did not happen.

"I believe that this situation will be resolved, hopefully as soon as possible because this is not good for Croatia, also in terms of (assessment by) credit rating agencies. I hope this will be resolved soon and then we move on, there is a lot of work and we are here to work."

Asked if he would step down if the parliament voted no confidence in Karamarko, Oreskovic said the government "is here to serve its term in the next four years and improve citizens' living standards. We are responsible and know very well what our term and goals are," said Oreskovic.

The government on Friday decided not to endorse a motion filed by the Opposition on a no-confidence vote in First Deputy Prime Minister and HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko, while government ministers appointed by the Bridge party voted against the government's decision.

Bridge wants Karamarko to step down because of the business relationship between his wife and a lobbyist for the Hungarian oil and gas group MOL, claiming that this is a conflict of interest situation. The Croatian government and MOL are currently involved in two arbitration proceedings over the management of the Croatian oil and gas company INA.

Bridge leader Bozo Petrov said after the government session on Friday that he believed the Patriotic Coalition, led by the HDZ, would propose a new candidate for First Deputy Prime Minister.

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