Croatia's coalition collapses over Agrokor bailout

The political crisis sparked by the financial problems of the ailing Agrokor group is coming to a head in Croatia. The ruling coalition comprising the right-wing conservative HDZ and the reform party Most has collapsed due to criticism of Finance Minister Zdravko Marić's ties to the group. Prime Minister Plenković now wants to continue governing without Most, and Marić has only narrowly survived a vote of no confidence. Commentators accuse politicians of plunging the country into chaos.

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Jutarnji list (HR) /

Country on the brink of disaster

Jutarnji List makes an urgent appeal to Croatia's two major parties, the ruling HDZ and the opposition party SDP, not to plunge the country into chaos:

“With 75 votes in favour and 75 votes against, the result of the no-confidence vote against Marić can hardly be described as a victory for the HDZ even if it means the finance minister will keep his job for now. But neither is it a victory for the fragmented opposition. It is probably the start of a period of political and economic chaos. What awaits us? The idiotic parliamentary battle doesn't exactly indicate that we can hope for any kind of new quality in Croatia's political scene. ... Therefore our two mainstream parties must begin to communicate with each other to at least guarantee the functioning of the main state institutions. The self-destructive process into which the politicians have manoeuvred the country must come to an end. We are on the brink of disaster.”

Delo (SI) /

Large parties have missed the boat

Just months after the last elections Delo also sees Croatia once again in a political impasse:

“The conservative HDZ once more finds itself in difficulties. Digging in its heels, it is insisting on searching for its identity and validating itself. The new party leadership with Andrej Plenković at the helm wants to show that the party supposedly has adopted new ideas. On the left, instead of the arrogant Zoran Milanović there is now the increasingly lost-looking Davor Bernardić. In almost every one of his public appearances he 'proves' that he is still far from adopting mature policies and is instead relying on populism - for the most part at Slovenia's expense. The reform party Most remains a disruptive element in Croatian democracy, which is only used to the HDZ and the SDP. These two parties, in turn, don't see that the times of stable governments and the simple formation of a parliamentary majority became passé years ago.”

Novi list (HR) /

PM wants to hush up wheelings and dealings

Prime Minister Plenković is plunging the country into chaos for the sake of protecting the underhand dealings between the HDZ and Agrokor, Novi list suspects:

“Plenković seems to be willing to go to any lengths to protect Agrokor's secrets and the murky, network-like ties between the company and the party structures of the HDZ. Even if it means the government falls apart. ... There is no other way to interpret the desperate attempt by Finance Minister Marić [who used to work for Agrokor] to save the company. This says a lot about Agrokor, and even more about the HDZ. The self-appointed apostle of stability [Plenković] has become the protagonist of new political uncertainties overnight. He doesn't seem to care whether he can end this self-created drama with a restructuring of the coalition - which is unlikely - or whether the whole mess leads to the second snap parliamentary election within the space of a year.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Plenković's decision courageous

Jutarnji list, on the other hand, applauds the prime minister's decision:

“Yesterday Andrej Plenković displayed the kind of statesmanship we haven't seen for a long time in Croatia. Because of Agrokor Croatia is facing a major crisis and the priority is to show the banks and the EU that the country is stable. In this context you can't simply fire a successful, hard-working, independent expert just because he once worked for Agrokor. Plenković must now put up with the usual volley of pointless attacks and accusations from the opposition and his coalition partners that he is plunging the country into a constitutional crisis. We can only hope that the politics of statesmanlike common sense that Plenković embodies will survive and that the future of our country won't be defined once more by pathetic, overblown populism. ”