Croatia's Social-Democrats Reject Proposal for Broad Coalition

  • Rejection opens path for government coalition of HDZ, Most
  • Announcement comes before party talks with president

Croatia’s Social Democrats, led by outgoing Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, rejected a proposal by the Most party to create a coalition led by a technocrat premier, opening the way for Most to form a government with the main opposition party, HDZ.

The Social Democrats’ Steering Committee dismissed the proposal by Most, Milanovic told reporters in the capital, Zagreb, after the meeting Saturday.

Zoran Milanovic

Photographer: Thierry Charlier/AFP/Getty Images

"The proposal is unsustainable as we can’t go with the HDZ, " he said. "And the idea of a technocrat premier hasn’t been very successful in recent examples in Europe."

The move follows weeks of unproductive talks between the two big parties and Most, which has attempted to play kingmaker after a third-place finish in the Nov. 8 general election. The political standoff is threatening to undermine an economic recovery in the Adriatic state of 4.2 million people, which is going to show its first annual growth this year since 2008.

While Most wants the two biggest parties to join it in government, the Social Democrats and the Croatian Democratic Union, known as HDZ, have both claimed the right to lead coalition talks and the government. The Social Democrats’ rejection gives the third-placed party a chance to continue talks with the HDZ, Most leader Bozo Petrov said Friday.

Most “will continue cooperation with the other side under the condition of naming a non-partisan premier,” Petrov told reporters after a meeting of party leaders. “We can’t be blamed if one side rejects us.”

The two big parties will meet Monday with President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic for a third round of consultations as she works to name a premier-designate. The constitution doesn’t dictate a time limit on talks before a new election must be called.