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News 04 May 17

Petrov Quits as Chair of Croatia Parliament

After a no-confidence motion in the Finance Minister failed - and amid an HDZ initiative to remove him as chair of parliament - MOST leader Bozo Petrov has resigned from his position in parliament.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Croatian parliament votes on Finance Minister Zdravko Maric. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Lana SLIVAR DOMINIC/DS

The head of MOST, Bozo Petrov, has resigned from his position as chair of Croatia's parliament after an opposition-backed move to unseat Finance Minister Zdravko Maric narrowly failed on Thursday.

Maric remained in his post after the failure of a no-confidence vote in parliament, when the opposition failed to gather the necessary 76 votes.

Of 151 MPs in the chamber, 75 voted for the minister’s resignation while 75 voted against. The crucial “against” vote came from Tomislav Saucha, who left the opposition centre-left Social Democratic Party, SDP, in February, facing graft allegationsa.

Zeljko Glasnovic, an independent right-wing MP, formerly connected to the governing Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, left the plenary hall when it was his moment to vote.

The opposition, led by the SDP, on April 20 filed the non-confidence motion against Maric – along with Saucha – because he had not excluded himself from voting on the troubled private company Agrokor, where he had worked before becoming a minister.

The opposition also accused Maric of taking a privileged loan from the state-owned Croatian Postal Bank as a member of its supervisory board during his term as state secretary in the Finance Ministry between 2008 and 2012.

The latest crisis for the government began when Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic last week axed three ministers from junior government party, Bridge of Independent Lists, MOST, for not supporting Maric.

The HDZ then entered into open conflict with MOST, which left the government and supported the opposition move to remove the Finance Minister.

During Wednesday’s debate on the no-confidence motion, HDZ and MOST MPs blamed each other for breaking the coalition.

Plenkovic, defending his minister, rejected all the arguments for removing Maric from office, calling him a “man who has received my trust”, and accusing MOST of misusing trust between government members by not supporting Maric.

“I want to reject everything that is in the no-confidence motion against me as Finance Minister … Everything that I am charged with is completely wrong and unfounded. In particular, I reject any idea that, in any of mine actions, I have placed my interest before the public interest while performing a public duty,” Maric himself told MPs.

The minister said that having worked in Agrokor for four years “doesn’t disqualify me from assuming office in state institutions”.

He added that it was not his responsibility as finance director in the company to write financial reports and added that the company, during his time there, “didn’t have any problems with its finances”.

The HDZ and MOST experienced a similar conflict in the previous coalition government in which the HDZ voted against Prime Minister Oreskovic, causing his government to fall in June last year.

In early elections held in September last year, the HDZ again won the most seats and again formed a coalition government with MOST.

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