22nd Oct 2018

No clear winner in Croatian elections

  • Will current prime minister Ivo Sanader remain in power? (Photo: European Commission)

Croatia's ruling conservative HDZ party and the opposition centre-left SDP are neck-and-neck after Sunday's (25 November) parliamentary elections, preliminary results show.

After counting 53.4 percent of the votes, current prime minister Ivo Sanader's HDZ was credited with 61 seats, and Zoran Milanovic's SDP – with 57, according to Bloomberg. The turnout was around 64 percent.

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But seven other parties are to enter parliament and two of them – the liberal HNS (Croatian People's Party) and IDS (Istrian Democratic Assembly), likely to get 10 seats in total – have said they would back the SDP, Croatian daily Javno writes.

Given the tight margin between the HDZ and the SDP, coalition talks will be crucial.

A total of 4.4 million people were eligible to vote in these elections, including more than 400,000 living abroad, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina - but in 52 other countries as well.

The vote of the numerous Croatian diaspora was an important topic during the pre-electoral campaign. The SDP argued that only those living in the country should have the right to decide its future, while the HDZ defended the opposite position and campaigned hard in Bosnia, where it has traditionally high support.

The government that emerges is likely to lead Croatia into the EU – something Zagreb hopes to achieve by 2010.

Regardless of their political differences, both the HDZ and the SDP have said they would work for the country's Euro-Atlantic integration.

EU membership remains popular among Croatians, but around one-third of them still oppose it, according to a poll by Promocija Plus published on Monday (26 November).

While half of the 1,300 people asked (49.8 percent) said they support Croatia's EU accession, 38.6 percent said they opposed it.

Zagreb started EU membership talks in October 2005 and negotiations on fourteen out of its 35 accession package chapters have been opened so far.

The country is also to receive an invitation to join NATO in April 2008.

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