HDZ Failed to Put Together Majority for Fostering Act HNS, SDSS and HSLS Opposed

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05.12.2018.

Duje Klarić / CROPIX

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On Monday, contrary to plan, the Sabor did not vote on the Fostering Act. The bill has stirred up controversy within the ruling coalition and the vote was postponed for Friday.

The ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) was obviously not willing to take a gamble on the bill, unsure of having enough hands to vote it in. Its main coalition partner, the People's Party (HNS), submitted an amendment to the bill whereby life partners, including informal life partners, would be able to take in foster children. It also announced it would abstain from voting on the HDZ's version of the bill. A number of members of the ruling majority coalition confirmed to us on Monday that they would back the HNS's amendment and vote against the HDZ's bill. Not surprisingly, given the number of permutations of support, the HDZ judged it wiser to try it on Friday, "when the conditions are met", as Speaker Gordan Jandroković put it.

Some MPs of the ruling coalition told us about the rumor that the HDZ [facing possible absence of some of its coalition partners] was uncertain as to how the Most party would stand, whether it would stay during the voting to uphold the quorum (but abstain from the actual vote) or not. Others said there was no problem with the majority. The HDZ, they maintain, simply wanted the bill of the Textbook Act [which also displeases the HNS] to pass on Wednesday and thus postponed the Monday voting on the Fostering Act for Friday to lessen the tensions.

OPAČIĆ AND PUH ENIGMATIC

Apart from the six HNS-affiliated MPs, the HNS amendment will also be backed by the three MPs of the Serb minority party, SDSS. If the amendment is rejected, SDSS will not support the bill. As we learned from its president Milorad Pupovac, the party let the HDZ know as much last week. The same goes for Italian minority MP Furio Radin, a member of the Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS) caucus. Social Liberal Party (HSLS) president Darinko Kosor says he will back the HNS amendment, but the way he will vote on the HDZ's bill remains to be seen. The remaining independent troika from the joint caucus of the ruling majority, Hrg, Dodig and Glavaš, will support the bill.

It seems that the key will be the way independent MPs who are members of Milan Bandić's party caucus will vote. He says they should vote according to personal conviction. Darinko Dumbović of the People's Party - Reformists supports the HNS amendment, but will also vote for the HDZ bill. Former Social Democrat Zdravko Ronko, now independent, is opposed to the amendment and backs the HDZ bill. He believes the law is good and that same-sex partners should not have the right to be foster parents. The same goes for Kažimir Varda and Željko Lacković. Marija Puh (formerly of the HNS), and Milanka Opačić, (former SDP member) would not answer or return Jutarnji's telephone calls. Vladimir Bilek will support the bill, but remains undecided about the HNS amendment.

To get the bill adopted, the HDZ needs the majority of MPs present in the Sabor during the voting — if the quorum of 76 is met, which also remains uncertain. On Monday, SDP confirmed to Jutarnji that their 31 MPs would not vote at all if the amendment is rejected. We have heard the same about the Most and its 12 MPs, who also do not want to support the HDZ even by being there and making up the quorum.

The rest of the opposition — IDS, HSS, GLAS and HSU — seems to be on the same side. They will support the amendment and not vote for the bill. The Independents for Croatia (NzH) like the bill and support it in principle, while opposing the HNS amendment. However, they dislike the idea of helping the HDZ. "If it depends on us, the bill will not be adopted, and that's that", they said. Živi zid is likewise opposes the amendment, but they cannot be expected to uphold the quorum that would help the HDZ. Independent Goran Aleksić, a member of the Živi zid's caucus, will not support the amendment and will abstain on the bill. Another independent caucus member, Ivan Lovrinović, will support the bill.

The latest caucus to be formed in the Sabor, made up of Bojan Glavašević and Tomislav Žagar (formerly of the SDP) and Marko Vučetić (formerly of the Most) will vote against everything proposed by the Government - and support the HNS.

CONSULTATIONS CONTINUE

Despite the fact that all members of the ruling majority coalition were present on Monday, the HDZ did not put the vote on the bill on the agenda. Speaker Gordan Jandroković said it would be done "when the conditions are met". He would not elaborate on the reasons for the conditions not being there yet. HDZ caucus leader Branko Bačić sees nothing odd in the postponement, the method the HDZ uses to minimize the risk of failure. "We have focused on the budget", he said. "Consultations on the agenda items we did not vote on today are still going on. We have time until this Friday or the next."

It remains to be seen what kind of agreement is sought, given that there is clearly none at the moment. The HDZ refuses the amendment while the HNS sticks to its guns. That means its MPs will abstain and will not support the bill. Asked about the clearly opposed positions, Bačić confirmed it. Nevertheless, he said the ruling party would not pressure the partners into changing their position. It would instead seek agreement on the way the partners would vote.

Recent speculations are revolving about the possibility of the parliamentary majority breaking down during the voting on the bill. Bačić maintains, however, that the HDZ does not fear the failure of the quorum. "We are not afraid of anything", he said. "We are talking about the voting that will take place this Friday or the next. There is no link between the bills on the Fostering Act and the Textbook Act. Indeed, as far as the Textbook Act is concerned, we have [agreed on] everything and there is no problem. It will be adopted.

Inačica na drugom jeziku / Alternate language version