President urges Croatian parliament to dissolve, force snap polls

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic on Friday urged the country's political leaders to swiftly dissolve the parliament and pave way for snap elections as the way out of a long-standing government deadlock.

"I appeal to [parliament] Speaker Zeljko Suster to schedule a debate on the dissolution as soon as possible," Grabar Kitarovic said.

The dissolution of the legislature would reduce the mandatory one-month period following the fall of Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic in a no-confidence motion a day earlier, she explained.

Under Croatian law, parliamentary parties have 30 days to designate a new prime minister, but just a day after the no-confidence vote it was obvious that no party had the majority or the will to put a candidate forward.

The president has no authority to schedule elections before the deadline expires, but the dissolution of parliament automatically forces them.

The opposition Social Democratic (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic said the parties in favour of snap elections had at least 82 out of the 151 votes. 

The group of parties agreed not to dissolve the parliament immediately, but with a delay.

"We ... need a vote on the decision to disband on July 15, which is important because that is the date when the deadline count begins," Milanovis told reporters after meeting Grabar Kitarovic. "We could convene us this afternoon - it's a five-minute job."

With an election deadline of between 30 and 60 days after parliament dissolves, the delay until mid-July would allow Croatia, a major Adriatic holiday destination, to hold polls after the high tourist season.

The probable dates for the vote are September 4 and 11.

Oreskovic was toppled Thursday in the no-confidence vote initiated by the larger of the two parties supporting him, the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

The HDZ and reformist newcomers Most appointed the non-partisan pharmaceutical executive and Canadian citizen Oreskovic in January, after difficult talks following elections in November.

Soon, however, the two sides began bickering and blocked the cabinet.

Most accused HDZ chief Tomislav Karamarko of corruption, demanding his resignation from the cabinet.

Oreskovic eventually asked Karamarko and Most leader Bozo Petrov to step down from their leadership positions to end the impasse, but the HDZ instead launched the no-confidence motion.

A government corruption watchdog ruled this week that Karamarko did violate rules by lobbying on behalf of the Hungarian energy provider MOL in a dispute with the national petrol company INA.

A former Yugoslav republic which had to fight for its independence 25 years ago, Croatia in 2013 became the most recent addition to the European Union.

Last update: Fri, 17/06/2016 - 17:02
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