Croatia conservative leader Plenkovic appointed as prime minister-designate for third term

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatian conservative leader Andrej Plenkovic was formally appointed prime minister-designate on Friday for a third consecutive term after he forged an alliance with an extreme right party following an inconclusive election.

Plenkovic’s ruling Croatian Democratic Union won the most votes at last month’s parliamentary vote in the European Union nation, but not enough to stay in power on their own. The party this week agreed to form a coalition with far-right Homeland Movement for a parliamentary majority.

Lawmakers are set to approve Plenkovic’s new government next week. It will have a slim majority of 78 lawmakers in the 151-member assembly, which could herald political uncertainty.

“We will continue in our third mandate to work for progress,” Plenkovic said on X, former Twitter, after he was appointed by President Zoran Milanovic.

Plenkovic’s new Cabinet is likely to push Croatia further to the right ahead of next month’s European election, which takes place as the continent faces a war in Ukraine, climate emergencies, migration and other problems.

The Homeland Movement, or DP, is a relatively new political party in Croatia, made up largely of radical nationalists and social conservatives who had left the center-right HDZ. The party is led by the hard-line mayor of the eastern town of Vukovar, which was destroyed during Croatia’s 1991 war for independence after it split from the former Yugoslavia.

For the first time in years, Croatia’s government will not include a party representing minority Serbs because DP opposed their inclusion. That has fueled concerns about ethnic tensions stemming from the conflict in the 1990s.

HDZ has largely held office since Croatia gained independence. The Balkan nation became an EU member in 2013, and joined Europe’s passport-free travel area and the eurozone last year.

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