Foreign press on the election in Croatia: Tough talks ahead to secure majority

NEWS 18.04.202412:28 0 komentara

Croatia's ruling centre-right HDZ party won the most seats in Wednesday's parliamentary election, but not enough to form a government. This will force complicated coalition talks or the prospect of an unstable minority government, international news agencies reported, citing the almost complete official results. Pročitaj više

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of incumbent Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic won 61 seats in the 151-member assembly, French news agency AFP reported, recalling that the party had won 66 seats in the last election in 2020.

A centre-left coalition led by the Social Democrats (SDP) won 42 seats and the right-wing nationalist party Domovinski pokret came third with 14 seats.

The conservative Most party and the green-left Mozemo party won 11 and 10 seats respectively.

“The country remains one of the poorest in the EU”

“The HDZ has convincingly won a parliamentary election for the third time (in a row),” said Plenkovic to his supporters in Zagreb early on Thursday.

The party will begin forming a new parliamentary majority on Thursday morning in order to form a government, AFP quoted Plenkovic as saying.

AFP said that all options are open for forming coalitions in the country, which joined NATO in 2009 and the EU in 2013, but emphasised that tough talks lie ahead to find a majority.

“However, with an average monthly wage of 1,240 euros ($1,345), the country remains one of the poorest in the EU,” AFP added.

Analysts said the Domovinski pokret party has a great bargaining position that could make it the kingmaker in forming a new government, although “it will be a very difficult negotiation process”.

The French agency also said that corruption has long been the HDZ’s Achilles heel.

Several of Plenkovic’s ministers have resigned following allegations and the fight against corruption was key to Croatia’s bid to join the EU in 2013, AFP recalled.

The narrow victory is likely to herald a period of political instability

Reuters wrote that the election was seen as a popularity test for Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his HDZ party, which has dominated politics since Croatia gained independence from the collapsing federal Yugoslavia in 1991.

“The result could also dictate important political decisions, including how the Croatian government views the conflict in Ukraine and relations with the European Union. Plenkovic supports Ukraine, the opposition does not,” according to Reuters.

The narrow victory is likely to usher in a period of political instability in the EU member country, as the main parties will seek to forge alliances with other factions with different political views.

Reuters surmises that the Domovinski pokret could become the kingmaker, although it has not publicly said which party – if any – it will support.

The HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) had hoped to capitalise on the long-term support it enjoys for overseeing Croatia’s EU accession, the introduction of the euro and the boom in tourist visits to the Adriatic coast.

But many have grown weary of the party and its many bribery scandals, including Plenkovic’s appointment of an State Attorney-General Ivan Turudic known for his links to people involved in corrupt deals, could affect its majority, Reuters reports.

Milanovic as the “Croatian Trump”

The opposition party SDP had hoped for a better result, Reuters quoted party leader Pedja Grbin as saying, adding that the SDP would “hold talks starting tomorrow”.

“A minority government, either led by the HDZ or the SDP, would be even more unstable and would probably not last the entire legislative period,” the agency said.

The German news agency DPA wrote that “the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic became the strongest force in the parliamentary election in Croatia, but fell short of an absolute majority according to the projections based on the preliminary results.

According to the German agency, voters cast their ballots in an election characterised by fierce rivalry between President Zoran Milanovic, “a pro-Moscow social democrat”, and the conservative Plenkovic.

“Milanovic’s crude insults of his political opponents as “gangsters” and “parasites” have earned him the nickname “Croatian Trump”, according to DPA.

Plenkovic has lost 30 ministers due to corruption scandals

Observers believe that Plenkovic, who only had a narrow majority in parliament before it was dissolved in March, wanted early election to prevent the threat of a further loss of popularity.

“The incumbent prime minister has continued the expansion of corrupt networks in the state and administration begun by his predecessors. In his almost eight years in office, he has lost 30 ministers due to corruption scandals,” wrote the DPA.

The agency said that with the recent appointment of State Attorney-General Ivan Turudic, who is loyal to the HDZ, Plenkovic now apparently wants to end the fight against corruption and the previously fruitful cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.

DPA recalls that Milanovic was Prime Minister from 2011 to 2015 as the then leader of the SDP party. Since becoming president in 2020, he has adopted an increasingly nationalist, Covid-sceptic and pro-Russian stance. Among other things, he tried in vain to prevent Finland and Sweden from joining NATO.

The parliamentary electionc in Croatia were also reported on by the Austrian news agency APA, the Slovenian STA and others

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