Political paralysis feared as Croatian vote fails again

Reuters News
Posted: May 13, 2016 12:47 PM

By Igor Ilic

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia's ruling coalition failed to gather enough of its lawmakers in parliament to pass any legislation for the third week running on Friday, raising fears of political paralysis.

At least 76 of the country's 151 parliamentarians need to be present for any votes on bringing in new legislation or altering old laws to be valid.

But the center-right coalition, which has promised to push through a host of economic reforms, only managed to get 75 of its MPs and other supporting independents to turn up, leading to speculation of rifts. The opposition walked out.

"I apologize to the citizens for this. Three people from our ruling coalition did not explain their absence. Such behavior is irresponsible," said Ivan Suker, the senior deputy leader of the conservative HDZ party, the dominant player in the coalition.

Political analyst Berto Salaj said it appeared that HDZ was still struggling to coordinate their efforts with Most, the junior coalition member, four months after coming into power.

"The result is that we have the government and parliament which are hardly functional," he added.

HDZ and Most have already argued about political appointments and some reform plans.

The government, led by technocrat Tihomir Oreskovic, has promised to tackle Croatia's low growth, poor investment climate, high public debt and unemployment.

With one of the weakest economies in the European Union, Croatia is closely monitored by Brussels for imbalances and any foot-dragging over reforms could trigger corrective measures.

(Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Andrew Heavens)