Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president and First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko reiterated on Saturday that PM Tihomir Oreskovic no longer enjoyed the HDZ's support, announcing that, if Oreskovic did not resign, the HDZ would initiate his impeachment and a parliament and government reshuffle.
Speaking to the press after an HDZ Presidency and Main Committee session, Karamarko said, "We concluded that we have the predispositions and good elements to embark on a reshuffle." He would not reveal with whom he planned to reshuffle the parliamentary majority and the government.
The HDZ sticks by its position that Oreskovic no longer enjoys its support, but Karamarko could not say how the party would ensure his impeachment. He allowed for the possibility of Oreskovic being impeached in parliament but also of the HDZ ministers leaving the government.
Asked if he had the majority to impeach Oreskovic in parliament, Karamarko said this was being discussed and that it was "possible in theory" for parliament to decide on Oreskovic's impeachment before a discussion on an opposition motion to impeach Karamarko as First Deputy PM over possible conflict of interest. "That's our goal, if a new majority is formed, for it to be good, because this experience we've had we wouldn't want to repeat with anyone ever again, God forbid."
Karamarko would not explicitly say if and when the HDZ would initiate Oreskovic's impeachment in parliament but said that the resolution would happen very soon. "I reiterated to the ministers several times today to do their job as though nothing was happening. This is a secondary consequence. It's important that the ministries continue to work. It's important that we activate the potential from the EU funds and everything indicates that that is going in the right direction."
Although the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) Presidency decided today to leave the Patriotic Coalition, Karamarko said the HSS was still part of the coalition. "I met with their president yesterday. I don't know what happened today."
Asked if a big coalition with the Social Democratic Party was possible, he said, "At this moment, no," before adding, "Actually, no." He would not speculate if the opposition would vote for Oreskovic's impeachment.
He said an early parliamentary election was an option. Asked if the HDZ could collaborate with the Bridge party again, he laughed. "I think we won't be watching that merry-go-round."
Karamarko went on to say that "Oreskovic hasn't called (him) since yesterday" and that they would probably speak later today. Oreskovic yesterday asked Karamarko and Bozo Petrov of Bridge to resign as First Deputy PM and Deputy PM respectively.
Karamarko refuted unofficial reports that HDZ vice president Milijan Brkic had asked at the HDZ Presidency session that Karamarko resign from the government. "There was no talk of my responsibility, but whether I should withdraw from the government, resign. Of course, there was no vote on that, so the conclusion was 'no', simply because the HDZ has already made too many concessions and we can no longer do that. What would that accomplish? That Mr Oreskovic should continue to run an HDZ-Bridge government? That's incoherent because, without us, he has no foothold in parliament."
Asked again if Brkic had criticised him at the Presidency session, Karamarko said, "He didn't criticise me. He was one of two or three people who raised the possibility of my withdrawal from the government, what that would mean for the party, for Bridge, for the prime minister etc, and a discussion ensued. No criticism, because this is quite an entangled situation. We can't criticise each other, the situation is what it is."
According to unofficial reports, at the Presidency session Brkic initiated a heated debate on Karamarko's accountability and the possibility that he resign as First Deputy PM. Eventually, he voted for a conclusion envisaging a parliamentary majority and government reshuffle, while only member of the European Parliament Ivana Maletic abstained from the vote.