Croatian Prime Minister faces impeachment

On Tuesday this week, the president of HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) and vice-prime minister, Tomislav Karamarko announced that his party is in the process of collecting signatures from MPs to impeach the current Croatian Prime Minister, Tihomir Orešković.

sabor

Sabor – Croatian parliament (Image: hr.wikipedia.org)

Right-wing HDZ is the largest party in the current Croatian government, the second largest being the Bridge of Independent Lists or MOST.

While both parties agreed, during the negotiations to form the government, that the Prime Minister should be a non-party candidate, businessman Tihomir Orešković, tensions between HDZ and MOST started from the first day the new cabinet was approved by the parliament – even though presidents of the those parties, Tomislav Karamarko (HDZ) and Božo Petrov (MOST) were approved by Sabor as two vice-prime ministers.

Before Tihomir Orešković was even approved by Sabor as PM (Croatian parliament), he faced harsh criticism from both the opposition and the general public for his poor fluency in Croatian language.

Serious tensions escalated when MOST stated that they will support opposition’s motion to impeach vice-MP Tomislav Karamarko, initiated by SDP (largest opposition party) in March. SDP accused Karamarko of putting interests of a foreign oil company ahead of interest of Croatian oil. Those accusations were backed by claims that a company owned by Karamarko’s wife received payments from a MOL lobbyist (Hungarian Oil Company).

On June 2, when the largest protest in Croatian’s history were taking place, the media reported that HDZ and MOST are in an open conflict and that they stopped all formal communication. Many experts predicted that government’s resignation or impeachment is likely to happen soon.

That is exactly what happened – when HDZ officials announced that they are going to submit a motion for a vote of no-confidence to PM in the parliament. HDZ accused PM Oresković of not fulfilling his promise that he will deal with the Croatian economy, social issues and job creation. They argue that the state and its financial system is in jeopardy because of Orešković.

While it was rumored that the opposition, led by SDP (Social Democratic Party) will support HDZ’s motion, rumors were disproven when SDP announced on Thursday that they stand by their previous demand for an early election and that they will start collecting MP’s signatures for a motion for the dissolution of Sabor.

President of SDP, Zoran Milanović stated that his party will not submit the motion for the dissolution of parliament without 76 signatures of MP’s.

Last Croatian general election had surprising results – denying two largest Croatian parties (HDZ and SDP) a clear majority in Sabor that has 151 seats. HDZ won 59 seats, SDP 56, while the biggest surprise of the election was MOST who won 19 seats. That made MOST the essential partner for forming the government as SDP-HDZ formed government was unlikely to happen due to ideological differences between the two. While MOST negotiated with both SDP and HDZ about forming the government, they chose the latter as a partner in a surprising and rather confusing twist of events. SDP accused the Catholic Church of interfering in the negotiations and pressuring MOST to choose HDZ – starting the political crisis in Croatia that has not concluded till today.

by John D. Stanley (pseudonym)