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Croatian president to run for more powerful PM's post in April election

1 min

President of Croatia Zoran Milanovic, Reuters/Ognen Teofilovski

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic on Friday set April 17 for a parliamentary election and said he would run for the more powerful post of prime minister after dissolving parliament in the small European Union country.

He acted in keeping with a motion by opposition parties led by the Social Democrats (SDP) and green left-wing Mozemo after a wave of protests against the policies of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic of the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

The election for the 151-seat parliament was originally planned for the autumn, but the government opted to hold it before European Parliament polls in June.

Milanovic is a Social Democrat and populist whose presidential term expires in February 2025 and has been at loggerheads with Plenkovic, but his announcement that he would seek election as prime minister was unexpected.

"There are times ... when one must leave his comfort zone," Milanovic told a news conference. "I am promising a determined and clean government."

Croatia has a parliamentary democracy in which the prime minister and his cabinet set all major policies. The president is empowered to nominate the prime minister based on election results, can dissolve parliament and acts as armed forces chief with some say in foreign policy.

Milanovic and Plenkovic frequently sparred over public and economic policies, filling vacant posts and ways of fighting the COVID pandemic. They often traded insults and refused meetings on a number of occasions.

The centre-right HDZ has led the government in the small southeastern European nation for the past three terms, with Plenkovic as premier since 2016.

Milanovic, who served as prime minister from 2011-16, said he would resign as president if he wins the coming election.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic



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