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Croatian parliament approves seven ministers in coalition government

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia’s parliament approved on Friday seven new ministers in a reshuffled conservative-led cabinet, ending a government crisis after a split in April between the conservatives and their junior center-right partner.

In the vote, 78 deputies in the 151-seat parliament endorsed the new government coalition.

The conservative HDZ party struck a coalition deal with the liberal Croatian People’s Party (HNS), representatives of national minorities and a few smaller parties to remain in power and avert a second snap poll in less than a year.

“I believe we have now secured stability for the functioning of the government and (state) institutions,” Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told reporters.

During the parliamentary debate the opposition severely criticized the deal between the HDZ and liberals, saying it was deceiving voters since the HNS party had won parliamentary seats as part of a pre-election deal with the Social Democrats, the second-strongest parliamentary party.

Four of nine liberal parliamentary deputies dissented, refusing to endorse the cooperation with HDZ.

The liberals said they entered the ruling coalition because their goal was to preserve political stability. They will run two ministries, those for construction and education.

“This combination of liberals and conservatives is atypical for Croatia’s political culture, but if the partners keep focus on goals and projects of joint interest and show readiness to compromise, this government could prove stable,” political analyst Viseslav Raos said.

In April, Plenkovic fired four ministers from the previous junior coalition partner, the center-right Most (“Bridge”) party, as Most supported the opposition in a no-confidence motion against Finance Minister Zdravko Maric, which he survived by one vote.

Reporting by Igor Ilic,; Editing by Ed Osmond