Croatian ruling party agrees to form government with far-right party

Croatia holds parliamentary election

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Croatia's ruling HDZ party has agreed to form a coalition with a far-right party following the parliamentary election in April, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who also heads the HDZ, said on Wednesday.

It took three weeks of negotiations for the conservative HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union), which won 61 seats in the 151-seat assembly, to agree a ruling coalition with the Homeland Movement (DP), which emerged as a kingmaker after the vote.

DP, which won 14 seats, had said it would not join any government that included the Serb minority party SDSS, a former ally of HDZ, or the leftist green Mozemo party. HDZ accepted those conditions, drawing criticism from opposition parties.

The new coalition needs 76 votes to win parliamentary approval. Plenkovic said he expects to retain the support of parties representing national minorities who were HDZ allies in previous mandates.

Plenkovic, who will serve a third term as prime minister if the new coalition is approved, added that the HDZ and DP would canvass support among lawmakers in the coming days ahead of the confirmation vote. He gave no further details.

DP leader Ivan Penava, confirming the coalition deal, 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 has entered government.

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

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Gareth Jones)