Croatian politics are very unpredictable, but talk on Monday is that Croatia is closer to finally forming a government…
Just to recap, the 2015 Croatian parliamentary election were held on 8 November 2015 with no party securing a majority in the 151 seats in Parliament which were up for grabs.
On latest count ruling center-left ‘Croatia is Growing’ coalition, led by Prime Minister Zoran Milanović, had 67 seats, after gaining a number after the election, whilst the ‘Patriotic Coalition’ led by the Croatian Democratic Union and headed by its party chairman Tomislav Karamarko, has 59 seats. The third-placed MOST (Bridge) led by Metković mayor Božo Petrov won 19 seats, and has been the deciding factor in the formation of the next government of Croatia since the elections.
A number of meetings behind closed doors and U-turns over the last month or so has left the general public clueless as to what was going to happen. After MOST convened a joint open meeting with the two major coalitions where they proposed that a non-partisan Prime Minister, as well as a rotation of the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker between the two major parties, it seemed re-elections were on the cards.
Developments over the weekend, which saw the ‘Patriotic Coalition’ walk out of negotiations, leaving the door open for the ‘Croatia is Growing’ coalition, means as soon as Tuesday Croatia could have a new government formed, a joint MOST-Croatia is Growing coalition, as well as a new Prime Minister.
Incumbent Prime Minister Milanović stated publically on the weekend that he will no longer hold the position, and the strong favourite to take the position is Petrov, who his party and Milanović’s backing.
So who is Božo Petrov?
If named as Prime Minsiter, Petrov, at the age of 36, will be the youngest ever Prime Minister in Croatia’s history.
Coming from a large family (2 sisters and 4 brothers), Petrov is a psychiatrist by profession, and is currently mayor of the town of Metković.
A staunch Catholic, Petrov attended classical Christian gymnasium in Sinj. At the age 14 he decided to join the Franciscan order, but eventually changed his mind. He graduated from the Medical Faculty of the University of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and specialized psychiatry in the Psychiatric Hospital Vrapče in Zagreb, after which he worked as a psychiatrist at the University Clinical Hospital in Mostar.
Petrov began his political career as an independent candidate on the list of the conservative Croatian Growth (HRAST) with his main motivation being that he wanted to fight against SDP-HDZ political duopoly. He eventually ended his collaboration with HRAST because “they betrayed its members and sided with the HDZ” which he didn’t approve.
In 2013 Bridge of Independent Lists participated in the local elections in the town of Metković. The party won 46.25% of votes, and 9 out of 17 seats in the City Council. Petrov won 67.94% of the votes in the run off to become the mayor of Metković.
As a mayor, Petrov cut his and the city councillors’ wage to the minimum. Finding a city debt of 17.6 million, he managed to bring it down by 6.4 million, or 36%. His deputies work as volunteers, while the councillors’ fees amount to a symbolic 1 HRK. Petrov abolished also the compensation to the members of supervisory boards and management councils, and representation expenses decreased by 10 times and travel costs by 8 times.
He also terminated several expensive public contracts, and introduced transparency in public spending. His work to sanitize the city’s budget got him to be declared the best mayor in the region.
An announcement on the new Croatian government is expected on Tuesday.