If the Croatian People's Party (HNS) votes against a draft budget for 2020 on Thursday, it will be thrown out of government just like the Most party was, the Jutarnji List daily said on Tuesday, quoting sources from the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).
If the two HNS ministers, Construction Minister Predrag Stromar and Education Minister Blazenka Divjak, do not support the budget at a government session on Thursday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic will thank them for their cooperation and tell the government secretary to prepare a decision on their dismissal, a senior official from the HDZ told the daily when asked what would happen if the HNS continued insisting that it would not support the budget if it did not include an increase in teachers' job complexity index or compensation measures, Jutarnji List daily said.
Teachers across the country have gone on strike earlier this month, after the government had rejected the unions' demand for a six percent increase of their job complexity index. After a nation-wide strike on October 10, a rotating strike began, and is taking place in different counties every day.
HNS leader Ivan Vrdoljak said last week that the party would not support the budget unless the teachers' demands were included.
"Our position is quite clear: we expect that solutions are found over the next few days and that some of the ones we had suggested and negotiated are included in the draft budget, or we will ask to postpone the vote next week. We cannot and will not vote for the budget which does not solve anything," he said then.
The populist Most party had three ministers in the government they formed with the HDZ after the 2016 parliamentary election. Interior Minister Vlaho Orepic, Justice Minister Ante Sprlje, and Environment Minister Slaven Dobrovic were dismissed by Plenkovic in 2017 after a cabinet session in which they had supported a parliamentary vote of no confidence against Finance Minister Zdravko Maric.
Several sources from the HDZ as well as from the ranks of coalition partners told the daily that the HDZ was adamant not to give in to what they called blackmail by the junior coalition partner and union demands.
Health Minister Milan Kujundzic said on Tuesday that he believed a solution would be found through dialogue.
"I don't know what will happen at the cabinet session on Thursday... but we in the HDZ are ready. It's a thing of political estimates, but I believe the HNS will get themselves together by Thursday," he said.
The HDZ will on Thursday present a budget that, instead of the demands from its junior partner, includes a delay in the lowering of the standard 25 percent VAT rate to ensure a 6.12 percent increase in the base pay of all government and public sector employees.
The HNS has asked that the discussion be postponed until an agreement is reached on a wage increase for teachers. The final deadline for the government to formulate the budget is November 15.