Croatia’s Most party, playing potential kingmaker after winning third place in November 8 elections, is sticking to its demand of a national unity government in a strategy that may lead to a new ballot.

Almost a month after the vote produced a hung parliament, Most urged both the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition Croatian Democratic Union, known as HDZ, to combine forces during talks on Wednesday, Most spokesman Nikola Grmoja told reporters. While Most wants them to push through measures to overhaul the economy and prune the size of the country’s bureaucracy, both parties have refused to work together in government. But, having finished neck-and-neck in the vote, neither can rule without a partner.

A lengthy political standoff may endanger an economic recovery in the country of 4.2 million, which is set to show its first year of growth after a six-year recession. The next indication of whether the parties may form a government or potentially advance toward a new election will come on Thursday, when elected lawmakers meet for the first time in parliament and discuss naming a speaker.

”The next few days will be decisive,” Nenad Zakosek, political science professor at the University of Zagreb, said by phone. “Should parliament not be constituted tomorrow as planned, the likelihood of new election will be drastically increased.”

New Elections?

After meeting senior members of the HDZ and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic’s Social Democrats on Wednesday, Most leader Bozo Petrov said both parties agreed with Most’s policy agenda, without elaborating.

Both HDZ and the Social Democrats have claimed the right to be given the mandate by President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic to lead coalition talks to form the next government. Under the constitution, the president is supposed to appoint a person once he or she shows they can win a confidence vote in the chamber.

Croatia’s economic recovery gained speed in the third quarter, with gross domestic product expanding 2.8 percent from a year earlier, the fastest pace since 2008. The yield on Croatia’s euro-denominated bond due in 2025 was little changed at 4:02 p.m. in Zagreb at 4.066 percent. The yield jumped to a four-month high of 4.373 percent the day after the elections.

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