Croatian incumbent PM Plenkovic secures mandate to form government

Croatia holds parliamentary election

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Croatia's incumbent Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic submitted to President Zoran Milanovic on Friday a list of lawmakers who will support his centre-right HDZ party´s new coalition, securing a third term in office following an April election.

The HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) has agreed to form a coalition with the far-right Homeland Movement (DP), which emerged as a kingmaker after the parliamentary vote, and representatives of national minorities.

"After submitting 78 signatures of deputies elected in the 11th Croatian parliament, I was given a mandate to form a Croatian government," Plenkovic said on his X platform.

Neither Plenkovic nor Milanovic, who have a history of rivalry, addressed the media after the short meeting.

The new parliament is expected to convene next Thursday after which Plenkovic will seek approval for his new cabinet which analysts say will be oriented more rightward, with anti-immigrant DP as the main partner.

The HDZ won 61 seats in the 151-seat parliament, well ahead of the main opposition party the Social Democrats who, with its allies, won 42 seats. DP, which has insisted on not joining any government that would include the Serb minority party SDSS, a former ally of HDZ, won 14 seats.

DP leader Ivan Penava has said his party would head the agriculture ministry, a new ministry of demography, and part of the economy ministry. It is the first time the DP, formed mainly by former HDZ members, has entered government.

DP campaigned in the election on a platform of defending traditional family values and against allowing the minority Serb party join any future coalition.

Plenkovic headed the outgoing HDZ-led coalition over the past eight years. The party, which has dominated Croatian politics since the 1991 break-up of socialist federal Yugoslavia, took credit for the country entering the EU's Schengen free travel area and the euro zone last year.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)