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Croatia's finance minister survives no-confidence vote

Members of the Croatian parliament attend a session prior the no-confidence vote for finance minister Zdravko Maric, in Zagreb, Croatia, Thursday, May 4, 2017. Finance minister Maric has narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in parliament amid deepening political turmoil in the newest European Union's member state. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
May 04, 2017 - 5:44 AM

ZAGREB, Croatia - Croatia's finance minister narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Thursday, amid deepening political turmoil in the European Union's newest member state.

The vote in the 151-seat assembly saw 75 lawmakers back the ouster of Finance Minister Zdravko Maric, 75 were against and one abstained.

The deadlock meant Maric could remain in his post. But it showed that the centre-right government has no majority support in the assembly.

The opposition charges that Maric has a conflict of interest because he was a senior executive in a debt-stricken Croatian private retail giant, Agrokor, which the government is now trying to bail out.

Thursday's vote was seen as a test for Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic after a junior partner left his ruling coalition, triggering a government crisis that could lead to another early election.

Plenkovic said he was satisfied that the no-confidence initiative against his minister "was defeated."

"This was an inappropriate and baseless attempt to destabilize the Croatian institutions," Plenkovic said, urging all parties in the assembly to "show political responsibility."

The previous coalition of Plenkovic's Croatian Democratic Union and the conservative Most (Bridge) group collapsed in June after six months, leading to a snap vote in September.

In an apparent retaliatory move against the former coalition partner, the Croatian Democratic Union called for the removal of the Most leader, Bozo Petrov, from his parliament speaker post. Petrov resigned as speaker Thursday, hours before the proposed vote.

Since joining the EU in 2013, Croatia has been struggling with economic problems and leadership crises.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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