• Croatia opens parliament on second try after Nov. 8 election
  • Parliament to vote on Premier-designate Oreskovic later

Croatia’s parliament elected a speaker on Monday, unblocking a seven-week legislative stalemate and paving the way for lawmakers to approve a new government following inconclusive elections.

Lawmakers elected Zeljko Reiner, a member of the Croatian Democratic Union, as head of parliament after his party agreed to form a ruling coalition with the Bridge party that came in third in the Nov. 8 general ballot. The two have proposed Tihomir Oreskovic, a non-partisan pharmaceutical executive who grew up in Canada, as premier. His appointment ended a deadlock in which the proposed coalition partners and the ruling Social Democrats wrangled over who would lead the government and lead a recovery from a six-year recession.

“One of our aims is for the government to put the economic crisis behind us, and to do that we will have to tackle difficult decisions from day one,” Reiner said after the vote. “We have to bring back hope back to Croatian citizens.”

Oreskovic has 60 days to win a confidence vote after President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic gave him a mandate to form a government last week. The stalemate has threatened to undermine the first annual growth since 2008, and authorities are now seeking to overhaul the economy by reducing the influence of the state and trimming the size of public administration. Reiner’s approval follows a previous attempt to elect a speaker that failed earlier this month.

Grabar Kitarovic said Oreskovic had support from 78 of parliament’s 151 members . In the election, the Democratic Union won 59 seats, while the Social-Democrat-led coalition garnered 56. The two big parties have alternated ruling the Adriatic country of 4.2 million people since its independence from former Yugoslavia in 1991. Bridge, which took third place in the election, has 15 seats.

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