Croatian Prime Minister Resigns
By Snjezana Vukic
ZAGREB, Croatia. Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan resigned Friday in a political maneuver apparently aimed at forcing a rival party out of his coalition government.Racan informed his Cabinet ministers that he resigned during a closed government session Friday morning, HINA reported. The resignation triggers the collapse of the 30-month-old governing coalition.
"The fate of the citizens of our country is more important than mine or anyone's political career, and that's why I resigned today," Racan said in a televised address to the nation.
His resignation was triggered by several political disputes with the Social Liberals, the second-largest party in his five-party coalition, he said.
"I admit that the citizens were right in thinking in the past few weeks we devoted too much time to our internal political discussions instead of solving their problems," he said. "Such a behavior endangered everything positive that we have achieved.
"At that moment, I had to say that we cannot work that way any longer."
Racan also said that he was ready to form a new government, in a new composition, "if I get support from the president."
The Liberals' leader, Drazen Budisa, said outside the government building that his party "has now again become a political opposition."
President Stipe Mesic will now nominate a prime minister designate – widely believed to beRacan, who then will have 30 days to form a new Cabinet and get it approved by parliament.
Racan has indicated he plans to form a new government without the Social Liberals by including several smaller parties. Analysts believe that strategy will garner enough votes in parliament to get the new Cabinet approved.
If parliament does not approve the new government, new elections would be called.The current Cabinet will continue its work until a new government is formed, Racan said.
The move is not expected to create a new crisis and could lead to a Cabinet that is more stable than the five-party coalition that in January 2000 replaced the nationalists of the late President FranjoTudjman.
Racan's government has launched political and economic reforms, moving Croatia closer to the European Union and NATO. But its internal fights, particularly between Racan's Social Democrats and Budisa's Liberals, have taken much of their time, slowing down or stymieing the government's work.
The pro-Western government's popularity has eroded with its failure to revive the economy, reduce the 23-percent unemployment rate and improve living standards.
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