HDZ Leader Resigns From Party as Croatia Readies for Early Vote

  • Resignation comes after lawmakers voted to dissolve parliament
  • HDZ to find new leader as snap vote to be held before Sept. 15

Tomislav Karamarko, whose Croatian Democratic Union initiated the fall of the government it was a member of, resigned from the top party post on Tuesday less than three months before early elections are expected to be held.

Karamarko, who stepped down as deputy prime minister last week after being censured for conflict-of-interest in dealings with Hungarian refiner Mol Nyrt., initiated the no-confidence motion against Premier Tihomir Oreskovic. The coalition of HDZ and Bridge, formed after inconclusive November elections, bickered for months, muddling the premier’s plans to shore up an economy emerging from a record recession.

“The government was dysfunctional anyway and reforms could not have been implemented,” Karamarko told reporters in Zagreb, according to a live broadcast by N1 TV. “This is a kind of a shock-therapy system and I am withdrawing” from the party.

President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic said she will pick the date of the snap ballot, which must be held between Aug. 15 and Sept. 15. The cabinet and its premier remain as caretaker until the next government is formed. Before the no-confidence vote motion was launched, HDZ was in a dead heat with he Social Democrats in opinion polls published last month.

Once the elections take place, the balance of parliamentary forces “will probably be skewed to the left, which means that the Social Democrats will likely head the next cabinet,” Otilia Dhand, an analyst at Teneo Intelligence, said in a report on Monday. “However, the party will probably need at least one coalition partner to gain an absolute parliamentary majority.”