Ruling Conservatives Upset Left in Croatia’s Parliamentary Election
The left-wing opposition has lost despite winning the country’s ceremonial presidency last month.
Croatia’s ruling conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has won the country’s parliamentary election in a somewhat surprisingly categorical victory and a poor showing for the opposition leftists.
The right-wing win has defied public opinion poll results, and comes against the backdrop of last month’s leftist victory in the Croatian presidential election.
Sunday’s parliamentary election in the EU’s newest member saw a record low voter turnout of 46% because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The HDZ won more than 37% of the cast votes, and secured a total of 66 seats in the 151-seat Croatian parliament, five more than it had.
It is still 10 MPs short of a ruling majority but the results indicate that the conservative formation would have a wide range of options for coalition partners, including several MPs from ethnic minorities.
The main opposition Restart coalition, which is led by the center-left Social Democratic Party, SDP, won nearly 25% of the votes, and was left with 41 seats, losing six seats.
Third came in a new nationalist formation, the Homeland Movement, a right-wing bloc centered around folk singer and former HDZ MP Miroslav Skoro. It won 11% and 16 MP seats.
Another right-wing party, MOST, received nearly 7.5% of the votes, which translate into 8 seats.
HDZ leader and incumbent Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic described his party’s electoral victory as “great”, but also an “obligation”.
“It is an obligation because we had a tough mandate full of challenges behind us, and the challenges ahead of us are even bigger. Such circumstances require hard work, energy, enthusiasm, dedication,” he said on election night, as cited by Croatia Week.
To form a new coalition Cabinet, HDZ and Prime Minister Plenkovic will likely also look for support to a couple of small liberal and right-wing parties with one seat each.
On Monday, the leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party Davor Bernardic announced he was resigning after the defeat.
Bernadic, who has been opposition leader since 2016, said he also would not run for reelection as SDP chairman in an upcoming internal election.
(Banner image: Andrej Plenkovic on Twitter)