Croatian conservative leader given new mandate to govern

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatia’s president on Thursday handed Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic the mandate to form a new government after his conservative party prevailed in a July 5 parliamentary election.

Plenkovic’s Croatian Democratic Union, or HDZ, came first in the election, held amid a renewed spike in new coronavirus infections, but failed to gain an outright majority in the 151-seat parliament, winning 66 seats.

However, it garnered the support of another 10 lawmakers from smaller parties and minority groups. The exact composition of the future Cabinet will be known next week.

“There are many difficult challenges ahead for Croatia,” Plenkovic said. “These challenges are of a political, economic, financial nature — and of course they also concern public health.”

HDZ prevailed over the main liberal opposition party that won 41 seats, while in third place was a party that challenged Plenkovic from the right-wing pole of the political scene.

President Zoran Milanovic on Thursday granted Plenkovic the mandate to form his new government after a total 76 lawmakers formally pledged to support him.

The new assembly is expected to convene next week. Plenkovic has announced that his new government will have fewer ministries, to ensure greater efficiency.

European Union-member Croatia has been struggling to salvage its key tourism season that’s been ravaged by the virus outbreak. Authorities have made wearing face masks in shops and other closed areas mandatory.

A country of 4.2 million people, Croatia is known for its stunning Adriatic Sea coast.

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