Croatian People's Party (HNS) leader Ivan Vrdoljak said at a news conference on Tuesday that the ministers from this party would not attend the government meeting on Thursday if the draft budget, which is expected to be on the agenda, did not include allocations for education-sector employees.
He told national radio that the HNS, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, "will not make a charade" of Croatian politics and budget adoption.
He went on to say that coalition governments "are a matter of social intelligence and compromise, and national interests in particular moments".
Vrdoljak said that he would not allow, and he believes that neither would the prime minister, such a scenario to happen in which a part of the government he has chosen is against the proposal he has put forward.
"We will definitely not sit at the government meeting and then vote against the draft budget," he said. "We are either a part of the government or we are not any more. There is no place for chagrin."
He said that the HNS was insisting on the resolution of the issue of higher salaries for education-sector employees through a change of their job complexity indices.
The ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) led by PM Andrej Plenkovic is proposing a rise of the base wage for public sector employees.
The HDZ has said that they are open to talks on all issues but that it would not be blackmailed.
Media outlets speculate about end of coalition
Some media outlets see this as the end of the HDZ-HNS coalition.
On Tuesday the Jutarnji List daily speculated that if the HNS voted against the draft budget for 2020, it would be thrown out of the government just as the Bridge party had been.
The daily quoted sources from the HDZ as saying that this time the party would not give in to blackmail.
The budget for next year is expected to be discussed on Thursday, even though the HNS has asked that the discussion be delayed until an agreement is reached on a wage increase for teachers, the deadline for the government to formulate the budget being November 15.
According to the daily, Finance Minister Zdravko Maric told his colleagues in the government on Monday that the budget for next year would be discussed on Thursday, however, a source in the HDZ leadership, even though he is in favour of such an option himself, has said that it is not 100% certain.