Social Democrat official Damir Mateljan said in Karlovac on Monday that the SDP had embarked on negotiations with Bridge ("MOST" in Croatian), an alliance of independent slates that emerged third after Sunday's parliamentary vote, and he declined to speculate how long those negotiations on the new government could take.

"The (SDP-led) coalition 'Croatia is Growing' has the biggest potential to form the next government, no matter whether it will be a coalition government or a minority government. It is important to realise that Bridge's excellent results clearly show that voters want a more courageous launch of reforms, and they want reforms of public administration and local self-government. For instance, my opinion is that the existence of counties is pointless, and I can see in Bridge's programme that they are for abolishing counties. However, some partners in our coalition may have a different opinion and therefore we should talk and agree the roadmap and deadlines for everything," Mateljan told a news conference.

Mateljan found it important to hold negotiations on the next government in a transparent fashion.

The Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Croatian People's Party (HNS), the Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU), the Autochthonous Croatian Peasant Party (AHSS), the Croatian Labour Party and the Zagorje Party (ZS) make up the "Croatia is Growing" coalition. According to incomplete results, it won 56 seats in the 151-seat parliament, while the Patriotic Coalition, led by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), won 59 seats. These two blocs are still short of ensuring a 76-seat majority.

Bridge, the biggest surprise of the election, is set to have 19 seats, the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) three, the Croatian Democratic Party of Slavonia and Baranja (HDSSB) and Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic's coalition two seats each, and the Successful Croatia coalition and the Human Barrier one seat each, according to information provided by the State Electoral Commission on Monday morning.

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