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News 16 Jun 16

Croatian Govt Falls After MPs Oust Oreskovic

The Croatian government has fallen after 125 MPs supported the no-confidence motion in Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Tihomir Oreskovic addresses the parliament. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Damir SENCAR/DS

Croatia's fragile coalition government has fallen after 125 MPs voted to remove Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic after a debate in parliament on Thursday afternoon.

After a day-long debate on confidence in the Prime Minister, only 15 MPs – 12 from the junior government party, the Bridge of the Independent Lists, MOST – supported Oreskovic. Two MPs abstained from voting.

The no-confidence motion was filed last week by the main government party, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, after Oreskovic earlier demanded that the HDZ president Tomislav Karamarko step down as Vice Prime Minister.

It followed weeks of rocky relations within the government, which worsened after the weekly Nacional revealed that Karamarko’s wife, Ana Saric Karamarko, received over 60,000 euros from Josip Petrovic, a lobbyist for the Hungarian energy company MOL.

Since MOL, owner of some 49 per cent of Croatia’s energy company INA, is in an international arbitration process over the management rights to INA, and since Karamarko proposed that Croatia pulls out from the process, a parliamentary commission ruled that he had breached two articles of the law on preventing conflicts of interest.

Even before the commission ruling, the main opposition Social Democratic Party, SDP, had filed a no-confidence motion in Karamarko in mid-May, which should have taken place before June 18.

Karamarko quit on Wednesday while demanding that both Oreskovic and the second Vice Prime Minister, MOST president Bozo Petrov, do the same.

During his address to parliament on Thursday before the vote, Oreskovic called the accusations made against him, that form the basis for demands for him to resign, "false and unfounded".

He said that the HDZ had filed the no-confidence motion against him partly because he "did not succumb to pressure" to appoint unqualified persons to run the Security and Intelligence Agency, SOA.

Oreskovic thus claimed the bid to oust him was a result of his attempt to protect national interests and resolve the issues surrounding INA and MOL.

"The government fell because of the personal interests of individuals, and I wanted to prevent it," he said.

The government now becomes "technical". A new government may be formed within 30 days, after which the President will dissolve parliament and call early elections for between 30 and 60 days.

Immediately after the government fell, the office of President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic announced that she will begin consultations on a prime minister-designate on Friday.

The HDZ has announced its wish to form a new government, likely without MOST, naming current Finance Minister Zdravko Maric as its preferred candidate as prime minister.

Now Oreskovic is removed, MOST will join the SDP and other opposition parties in their demand for parliament to be dissolved and early elections scheduled.

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