Sunday

24th Mar 2019

Croatia PM toppled amid coalition infighting

  • Tomislav Oreskovic during a press conference with Council president Donald Tusk. (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Croatia is preparing for a government reshuffle or early elections after the parliament voted to remove prime minister Tihomir Oreskovic from office.

The ruling Patriotic Coalition, consisting of the conservative HDZ party and Most, a big-tent party led by former Catholic cleric Bozo Petrov, has been in dire straits for weeks.

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Relations deteriorated further when HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko came under fire for alleged conflicts of interest. His wife was shown to have received over €60,000 from a firm lobbying for Hungarian oil company Mol, which is in dispute with the Croatian government.

On Wednesday (15 June), a parliamentary committee found Karamarko guilty of breaching two articles of the law on preventing conflicts of interest. Karamarko resigned from his post as deputy PM the same day.

He said his resignation was not linked to the committee vote and that he would seek redress in court.

”Tomorrow [Thursday] we will hold a no-confidence vote against PM Oreskovic as this government is dysfunctional," he added.

Oreskovic, a political novice who spent most of his life in Canada, was made prime minister in a compromise that ended record-long coalition talks last autumn.

The largest opposition party, social-democratic SDP, supported the HDZ motion to oust him, hoping this would trigger early elections. 


During its half year in power, the Patriotic Coalition has led Croatia down the path of illiberal democracy in developments comparable to those in Hungary and Poland. It fired critical journalists from public service channels and cut off funds for independent cultural bodies.

It also alienated teachers by installing a minister of education who doubted Darwin’s theory of evolution and who tried to infuse the curriculum with nationalist propaganda.

The culture minister used to be a member of a neo-Nazi group and has glorified Croatia's World War II leaders, who were allied with the Nazis and who carried out massacres.

Amid the political turbulence, Croatia is struggles with recession and with a 15 percent unemployment rate.

HDZ said it would try to form a new majority in parliament, which would back the current non-party finance minister Zdravko Maric as new PM. It is unlikely to ask Most for support.

SDP will file a proposal to dissolve the parliament, hoping the right-wing coalition’s track record would help it win over disgruntled voters.

If HDZ fails to form a new cabinet within 30 days, president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic must call a snap election.

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