The HDZ, which is the senior member of the incumbent coalition government, is preparing for intra-party elections on March 15th. If needed a second round will be held on March 22nd.
The incumbent HDZ party chairman and current Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, is facing strong opposition from more conservative elements within the HDZ. On Tuesday members of his cabinet tried to downplay the growing tensions within the HDZ.
Finance Minister Zdravko Marić: "All of this needs to be toned down a little. We just need to hold democratic elections, as foreseen, and everything will be alright."
"I won't contribute to raising tensions. What's more I call on all interested sides to present well argumented programs to the party's membership, and to contribute to the intra-party election campaign in that way," added Veteran's Affairs Minister Tomo Medved.
One of Plenković's harshest critics is HDZ vice-president Milijan Brkić, who recently claimed that he was opposed to forming a coalition government with the HDZ's first coalition partner, MOST, as well as with its current partner, the HNS, which is traditionally left of center on the political spectrum. Brkić claims that he had favoured reaching a deal with the HSS instead, given that the HSS is a traditionally right of center party.
Plenković has rejected this assessment, saying that Brkić was openly in favor of partnering with the HNS. Senior MOST official Nikola Grmoja says the HDZ's talks with the HNS had started even before Plenković assumed the party reigns.
"They were holding negotiations with the HSS and the HNS. In the end they reached an agreement. But it wasn't just Plenković's government that was negotiating with the HNS, because negotiations with the HNS were also being conducted by Plenković’s predecessor, during the tenure of Tomislav Karamarko, and not just with the HNS, but with the SDSS as well, meaning minority representatives. I am known as Plenković’s harshest critic in parliament, but these kinds of complaints against him don't pass the smell test, because they were all negotiating with the HNS and SDSS."
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