(Adds PM's comment in paras 5-6, context)
By Igor Ilic
ZAGREB May 4 Croatia's Finance Minister Zdravko
Maric survived a no-confidence vote on Thursday, but the
razor-thin margin indicated conservative Prime Minister Andrej
Plenkovic faces a tough fight averting a snap election after the
ruling coalition's collapse.
In a vote that was seen as a test of parliament's support
for the prime minister, the opposition and Plenkovic's former
coalition partner, the centre-right Most ("Bridge") party,
mustered 75 votes against Maric. That was one short of the 76
needed in the 151-seat parliament.
Most quit the coalition last Friday after Plenkovic fired
three of its four cabinet ministers. The prime minister now has
to decide if he has enough support to propose new ministers to
parliament or opt for an election.
So far, Plenkovic has shown no sign of calling a snap poll.
On Thursday he said he preferred political stability but ducked
questions about when he might put his eventual choice of new
ministers to a vote in the assembly.
"It is not a topic today," the prime minister told a news
"The HDZ and I are ready for an election, but we want to
keep stability and it is now up to other parliamentary parties
to show if they want the same."
He added that consultations were already underway with other
A snap election would be the second in less than a year and
would delay economic reforms needed to boost one of the weakest
European Union economies.
Shortly after the no-confidence vote, Bozo Petrov, leader of
Most announced he was resigning as speaker of parliament.
Parliament is scheduled to break from Friday to allow for
campaigning ahead of municipal elections on May 21, though it
can be convened should Plenkovic seek the assembly's backing for
The no-confidence motion against Maric was demanded due to
his alleged conflict of interest and lack of credibility in
handling a financial crisis at Croatia's biggest private firm,
Agrokor, where he was a senior executive until early
2016 and where the government has appointed crisis managers.
(Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Richard Lough)