Croatia – PM To Go New Government Possible With Re-Stacking Parliamentary Seats

Tomislav Karamarko Leader HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union First Deputy Prime Minister

Tomislav Karamarko
Leader HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union
First Deputy Prime Minister


A couple of days ago it was Tomislav Karamarko, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of Croatia’s conservative HDZ party, the biggest in the ruling centre-right coalition, that took shots from all sides – the Social Democrat motion to Parliament for vote of no confidence, the push from minor coalition partner MOST leader Bozo Petrov to resign and the push from Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic to resign, to step down. Political crisis built up to breaking point. Karamarko though had not been proven to have done anything wrong – he just seems to be not liked for some obscure and repulsive reasons I have unsuccessfully tried to understand during the past weeks.

On Tuesday 7 June 2016 HDZ and Karamarko took on the fight with admirable resolve: they filed a no-confidence motion against technocrat Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic. So the way things look now that Croatia’s parliament could be looking at dealing with both motions for vote of no confidence on the same day! Likely in about 10 days time! If that occurs then the no confidence motion against the Prime Minister would take priority and if that goes through then there will be no need to vote on no confidence motion against Karamarko! HDZ assures the public that the reason for its motion against the Prime Minister was not and is not to avoid the vote against Karamarko.

They have legitimate concerns about Prime Minister Oreskovic and have every right to have those addressed in the parliament. Certainly, I consider their concerns legitimate and am yet to be convinced that choosing a technocrat, an unelected person for the role of Prime Minister was the right decision to have made in the first place. It looked good at first as serious intentions and plans for “big” reforms were announced but at this stage that good is fast turning to bad as it appears that while he did not get to sit in the highest chair via political merits Oreskovic is certainly acting these days as becoming too big for his boots – politically. He should stick to the profession he was appointed for – to save the economy. But perhaps he is no “Super Mario” – Italy’s technocrat former Prime Minister Mario Monti considered as having saved Italy from collapse during Eurozone debt crisis 2011-2013.

At a press conference held in Zagreb on Tuesday 7 June Tomislav Karamarko announced that his party/HDZ was commencing the process of no confidence vote motion in the parliament and that there are plenty of reasons for this.

This government is dysfunctional in many elements. We can pursue reforms only with new people. There is still time for new, homogenous and reshuffled government,” said Tomislav Karamarko. “ If the Prime Minister wants the leaders of the two parties in government to step down, then there is something very wrong in there. And before that he supported us. We are starting this motion because we consider that we need to be responsible for the voters, the public and the future…”


According to reports Zeljko Rajner, president of Croatian parliament had today, Wednesday 8 June 2016, included HDZ’s no confidence vote motion against Prime Minister Oreskovic and from that moment the official parliamentary process on the matter, i.e. the term of eight days within which the government needs to express its position on the motion, is considered to have commenced. From the moment when the government expresses its position on the matter of no confidence vote against Prime Minister motion the term of 30 days within which the parliament must express its position commences. As a matter of explanation there are no time limits/constraints within which the parliament must deliberate on the motion for no confidence vote for any other member of the government, such a Karamarko. 42 Members of Parliament have signed the proposal for the motion of no confidence vote against the Prime Minister and for the vote to be confirmed in favour of the motion there needs to be 76 votes.


The motion against the Prime Minister reportedly burdens Oreskovic on six points. That instead of dealing with and addressing the economy, social questions and creating new jobs he went about dealing with staffing in a repressive apparatus, that he “maintained political tension in the country in the interests of gaining personal political power”. HDZ reproaches Oreskovic for going to talks with the Security and Intelligence Services (SOA) on matters he kept secret from everyone at the exact time when he was to chair a meeting of the government. They say that by cancelling the government meeting and attending a secret meeting with SOA he “purposefully turned the Agency into a political factor” in the country, which, they add, could be seen as an attempt to introduce “bureaucratic dictatorship with the aid of a political apparatus”. HDZ members of parliament also criticize Oreskovic’s “completely absent will” to cooperate with representatives of political powers who gave him their trust to lead the government and say that his call for the two leaders/his deputies – on whose support his mandate depends – to step down, supports this claim.


Because of such irresponsible political behavior, as well as the fact that Oreskovic, as a person without political legitimacy (was not elected into Parliament), is seeking resignations of people who chose him (for the role of Premier) the functioning of the country and its financial stability are jeopardised,” concluded the 42 parliamentarians who signed the motion for no confidence vote against Oreskovic.

The main opposition party, the Social Democrats (SDP), said they would support the motion against Oreskovic and wanted snap elections in mid-July, latest September!


The election is a last solution as it would mean losing time, although I’m optimist even in the case of new election,” Karamarko said.


While HDZ headed by Karamarko believe they can muster up a new majority in parliament (without Most/Bridge coalition of independents, to form government, many analysts believe this attempt is likely to fail. The fever of this political crisis has pitched high now and most likely won’t be long for a resolution to surface. Some say that if Prime Minister Oreskovic falls then ministers resign and the government falls and snap elections are inevitable. But, in politics all is not always in accordance with known logic or predictable paths. It just could be that HDZ will masterfully shape a new majority in parliament and take lead in governing the country as its political legitimacy of being the largest recently elected block of seats in parliament deserves such a chance. This would certainly save the trouble and expense of new elections as well as prevent any further delay in dealing with needed reforms the HDZ part of coalition government had announced it would achieve. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Witch-Hunt Fever Spreads Threatening Collapse Of Government

Tomislav Karamarko Leader of HDZ/ First Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia

Tomislav Karamarko
Leader of HDZ/ First Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia


Following Croatia’s political developments that saw the mounting of scandal after scandal in efforts to destabilise the government since January 2016 these days is like being catapulted back to the Middle Ages when witch-hunts thrived, fever of confusion and moral panic ruled the day and truth and justice took a far back seat. This time, though, in Croatia the moral panic appears to seep in all shapes and forms from ex-communist and communist-minded echelons, threatened with full exposure and reckoning of the communist crimes their political forbearers committed against the Croatian nation. It’s also like riding on a beastly rollercoaster that cruelly gives no clues as to how turbulent, even how fatal, its next turn may be.

The most deeply disappointing element in this state of political confusion is that even the appointed (non-elected) Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic and minority BRIDGE/MOST coalition partner Deputy Prime Minister Bozo Petrov have both since Friday 3 June 2016 caught an insufferable dose of the terrible illness previously manifested mainly by the leftist opposition of Social Democrats and their political allies in the parliament. This terrible illness can be labeled: witch-hunt fever against Tomislav Karamarko, First Deputy Prime Minister and leader of Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ majority partner in the coalition government. This witch-hunt fever currently centres around the motion to the parliament by Social Democrat opposition seeking a vote of no-confidence on basis of Karamarko’s wife’s previous business consultancy as well as on basis of things Croatia media has reported Karamarko had at various times said!


To use this motion, prior to the appropriate authorities delivering a finding as to whether Karamarko has a conflict of interest case to answer, as a foundation in seeking his resignation in a country where democracy and due process are said to be the guiding principles and practices is tantamount to lunacy; to witch-hunt fever no citizen should be subjected to in the 21st century. The motion for no-confidence vote tabled by the Social Democrats is discussed in some political circles as a credible process even though facts of the matter have not been established nor truth certified by way of tested evidence! How someone can say they’ll vote for the motion of no confidence when it has not been established that Karamarko’s professional decision making capabilities for the government have been adversely affected by his wife’s business dealings prior to elections and his becoming the First Deputy Prime Minister, as Social Democrats seem to claim, can only be answered with repugnance.


Tihomir Oreskovic Croatian Prime Minister

Tihomir Oreskovic
Croatian Prime Minister

Croatia’s prime minister Tihomir Oreskovic on Friday 3 June 2016 in a surprise and seemingly sudden move urged his two deputies (Tomislav Karamarko and Bozo Petrov) to step down to end a political deadlock; he said he himself would not resign and that he did everything in his power to try and fix the broken relationship between the two deputies. The latest crisis erupted when Bozo Petrov from BRIDGE/MOST said during the past week it would support the Social Democrat motion to replace its partner’s First Deputy Prime Minister Karamarko.
I am not resigning and I didn’t plan to,” Oreskovic said Friday, insisting new elections are not necessary and would only slow down and burden Croatia’s economic recovery.
I hope they (deputies) will make a decision in the interest of the Croatian citizens,” he said.


The leader of the Croatian Democratic Union, Tomislav Karamarko, who said he was surprised by the prime minister’s decision, promptly rejected Oreskovic’s call.
Deputy premier Tomislav Karamarko, head of the HDZ party which dominates the government, refused to quit and said either fresh elections or a “reconfiguring” in parliament were now the only solutions adding that Prime Minister Oreskovic no longer enjoys HDZ’s trust.
MOST leader Bozo Petrov said he was ready to resign but insisted Karamarko should too.

Bozo Petrov Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia

Bozo Petrov
Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia

The fact that witch-hunt against HDZ leader Karamarko is at the forefront of Bozo Petrov’s mind is evidenced by his statement for HRT news Saturday 4 June 2016 when he said: “…I am now truly interested, after the ‘consulant’ affair (read Karamarko’s wife’s business consultancy) that arose and everything else that he is the one who presents himself as the one who is protecting (Croatian) national interests … if he really cared about the homeland, as he often said he does, then he would know that the term ‘political rsponsibility’ exists and if though nothing else then he would protect national interests by submitting his resignation …”

Petrov stated further on HRT news Saturday 4 June that if HDZ achieve a governing majority through reconfiguring then “that will resemble some hybrid monster, but that is their problem…”! Can you imagine a member of parliament saying this! Absolutely shocking – nothing that people elect into the parliament can be viewed as a monster of any sort! This Bozo Petrov needs to be ousted from the government – not Karamarko.


HDZ Presidency met on Saturday 4 June 2016 and confirmed its support for Tomislav Karamarko as its leader in both the Party and its parliamentary majority, despite a reported suggestion by HDZ vice-president Milijan Brkic that Karamarko could consider removing himself/resigning from First Depty Prime Minister position. Reportedly all options were at the table and the concluding agreements were that HDZ will work on finding a way as to how Prime Minister Oreskovic needs to be removed from the top job and how HDZ can push ahead by reconfiguring the parliamentary partners it may still govern with as majority coalition partner. Reports in the media that HDZ itself is split on the issue of Karamarko’s leadership do not seem to be supported by any visible threat to his leadership although, as any other party anywhere, HDZ is not immune from factions and fractions.

In the event of re-stacking or re-configuring parliamentary majority in order to save this HDZ led government possibilities do exist that some MOST/BRIDGE coalition members may abandon that coalition and cross to direct coalition with HDZ as “single seat” to help HDZ make-up the required 76 seats as Petrov loses his grip on MOST’s political coagulation of independents. Furthermore, the next week or so is set to show as to whether HDZ can assemble new alliances within the parliament in order to come up with majority seats and, hence, enter a new era of its coalition government. The alternative solution to solving the political crisis that has been created via false allegations and sheer political stupidity and sensationalism  is said to lie in new general elections, which HDZ says is the last resort they would condone as elections take time and cost money Croatia cannot afford. Of course, there is always the possibility that Social Democrats’ motion for a vote of no confidence against Karamarko will be blown out of the water even before voting gets a place on the agenda of parliamentary day business. And then again, one could expect new scandals seizing the public space unless HDZ leader Karamarko sits firmly on government’s reform agenda, clears unstable HDZ elements/members and officers in its ranks to outer margins or insignificance, so to drown political scandals and affairs that prevent the government from doing its job properly. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Staged Political Crisis Undercutting Needed Rhythm For Reforms

Left: Tomislav Karamarko, First Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia Centre: Tihomir Oreskovic, Croatia's Prime Minister Right: Bozo Petrov, Croatia's Deputy Prime Minister

Left: Tomislav Karamarko, First Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia
Centre: Tihomir Oreskovic, Croatia’s Prime Minister
Right: Bozo Petrov, Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister

Instead of seeing a gradual settling of politically antagonistic spirits, left over from public spaces of pre-election and elections moods, which usually makes the job of new government’s ushering in the desperately needed reforms that would bolster and aid positive economic change and reduction of the crippling foreign debt easier, the end of May 2016 marks a full four months of a staged seemingly crippling political crisis that makes the work of the government extremely difficult and often impossible. The staged political crisis aided by a great deal of bias and fueling of scandals in the media is visibly keeping the coalition government on its toes and vigilant; ready to pounce back with replies to malicious accusations and innuendoes that cannot and should not wait a reply. It seems like every day is a new scandal directed at the government and the media readily picks up on these regardless of where facts or truth stand.


For three weeks in May the Parliament sittings had been unable to vote on new legislation due to lack of quorum. From day one of this new coalition government (conservative centre right HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union and independent political force MOST) Croatia has constantly been bombarded with ever new scandals originating from the centre left that was previously in government, former communists but today’s Zoran Milanovic led Social Democrats, who hold that they should be the ones heading the government even if they won less seats than HDZ in the last elections.

The first staged scandals had to do with the proliferation of lies and half-truths regarding minister of culture Zlatko Hasanbegovic who was labeled a fascist and a Nazi, and Croatia under the new government labeled as a country that is seeing a renewal of (WWII) fascism.  Vicious pressure for the government to rid itself of Hasanbegovic never ceases to this day even if the man himself has done nothing wrong, but – hey – he is strong on wielding justice for victims of communist crimes and that is – evidently – a “No, No” for ex-communists and their contemporary “compadres”. Then soon came the resignation of the new veterans’ affairs minister under the pressure of having registered a shed, in which he does not live, as his residence.
Then came an attack against education minister Predrag Suster regarding his expressed stands on evolution Vs creation.

Then came the viciously recriminating divisions and scandals regarding the Holocaust victims’ memorials at Jasenovac and the memorials for the victims of communist crimes at Bleiburg.


Then came the inability of the Parliament to vote on legislation due to lack of quorum that lingered on for three weeks or longer. Then the latest is Social Democrat opposition pressure to slot in a vote of no confidence in the parliament against First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko (HDZ) – citing conflict of interest because reportedly his wife’s private business previously had dealings with PR consultant for Hungary’s oil company MOL that holds control over Croatia’s INA company and over which control Croatia’s former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader is currently in court answering to corruption charges and bribery. Even though Karamarko has instigated that a formal investigation be held into whether he acted with conflict of interests, and this is said to happen inside coming two or three weeks, the Social Democrat opposition still wants the parliament to vote on no-confidence motions on the basis of conflict of interests (which has not been proven so far and which Karamarko denies); well, communists never bothered with due process such as court hearings or other official testing of evidence, so why would they (Social Democrats) start now! Innuendos and bullying an intimidation served well their political agenda under communist Yugoslavia!


Tension in the government coalition is portrayed in the media as growing every day despite the admirable calm and composure with which members of the government try to address the scandals. But, the detailed announcements of expected reforms did take a seemingly long time to surface. There is talk of changes in government and the majority in Parliament – even early elections. Conflicts are on several levels and the needed reforms remain the same. Ironically – ONE MAY BE TEMPTED TO SAY – this coalition came to power with strong promise of reforms, but, instead what we are seeing now is that the coalition led by HDZ is demonstrating exactly what, during election campaign, the Social Democrats said HDZ was: that HDZ was a corrupt political party and that (given SDP started labeling HDZ as fascist prior to election campaigns) under Social Democrats there would be no going back to the old ways – meaning WWII Ustashi ways/fascist ways.


HDZ is neither corrupt nor fascist but SDP is certainly working overtime domestically and internationally to make it appear so. Well, if SDP is counting to turn the voter tides towards it as it prepares to wave the “I told you so” finger at the public, hoping to achieve a mass amnesia in the public regarding its own destructive and corrupt government, and win a comfortable majority at next elections, it has not got much prospect.



Make no mistake – former communists, Social Democrats, have gone out of their way to create images of the HDZ led government to fit exactly the picture it painted of it during election campaign. No naturally occurring irony, therefore – it’s all a thoroughly planned stage with view to disabling the government in efforts to prove it incompetent! Furthermore, it’s all making Croatia appear as an intolerant society under the conservative government, when in fact the intolerant ones are the left-siders especially when it comes to not tolerating any attempt to bring about justice for victims of communist crimes.


The government is offering some 60 reforms, which encompass a wide spectrum of areas and matters – all are most relevant to the betterment of Croatia’s future: public administration, job growth, privatization of state owned companies, reduction of foreign debt… The main measures are aimed at macroeconomic stability and fiscal sustainability. Lowering of public debt is the main priority announced by Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic and Finance Minister Zdravko Maric. A reform in public procurement, higher visibility of public sector with government offices restructuring, Internet-based business dealings and technological upgrade are due. With the European Commission’s most recent lowering of Croatia’s 2016 GDP growth forecast to 1.8% and announced Croatian government’s reforms last week, Croatia has a good chance of coming out of this slippery slide served  upon its government by the nasty “Reds”.



If the government stays firm on its path of reform and positive results start showing, then all the political scandals of the world cannot shake its foundations or threaten its endurance. The way things may appear now, though, is that the government will not survive because of the constant barrage of political scandals that create an impression of a political crisis looming due to some incapacity (and moral fallacy) of the government. Whether new elections or re-stacking of the parliamentary majority/coalition actually occur in the relatively new future continues to depend on the government’s resolve not to be distracted from the job it said it would do if elected. That is easier said than done, but be that as it may – staying focused on reform results is most important. Everything else, even the hardest or the most painful of attacks, fall by the wayside when good reform results end up in citizens’ pockets. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. Syd)

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