Croatia's new Parliament convenes, elects new speaker

Croatia's lawmakers have convened for the first time since last month's early election, paving the way to approve a new government following a period of political instability in the European Union's newest member.

The lawmakers on Friday elected Bozo Petrov, the leader of the small populist group Most (Bridge), as the new speaker. That reflected a coalition agreement with the conservative Croatian Democratic Union, or HDZ, whose leader Andrej Plenkovic has been named the prime minister-designate.

The conservatives won most seats in the 151-member parliament in the Sept. 11 ballot, but not enough to rule alone. They have created a coalition government with Most, minority parties and other smaller groups.

Officials say the new government could be formed next week. The previous one collapsed in June, triggering political turmoil.