1st Apr 2020

Centre-left wins in Croatia, scores well in Slovenia

  • Croatians voted for the left-leaning Kukuriku coalition led by Zoran Milanovic (Photo: Kukuriku coalition)

Elections on Sunday (4 December) brought to power a left-leaning coalition in Croatia, as predicted, but delivered a surprise result in neighbouring Slovenia, where a new centre-left party led by a businessman mayor exceeded all expectations.

In Croatia, the centre-left Kukuriku (cock-a-doodle) coalition led by Zoran Milanovic is predicted to win 78 seats in the 151-seat parliament. Named after the restaurant where the alliance was forged, but also symbolising a 'new dawn', the Kukuriku alliance was set to win effortlessly as corruption scandals had marred the ruling centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

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"We may make mistakes, but we must not stand still. There will be no excuses," 45-year old Milanovic told supporters on Sunday evening as exit polls indicated his victory.

Outgoing Prime Minister Zadranka Kosor, whose former party chief and premier Ivo Sanader is currently on trial for corruption and embezzlement of party funds, had to stomach the loss despite having secured the country's EU membership, from 2013.

Her party has been in government 16 out of the 20 years since Croatia became independent after Yugoslavia collapsed, in 1991. Still in office until January, Kosor will however be in Brussels on Friday for the formal signature of the membership treaty and sit with all other 27 EU leaders.

Kosor had so far staunchly resisted that Croatia asks the International Monetary Fund and the EU for a loan, but Milanovic has indicated he would not rule it out as a "last resort." The Croatian economy is barely out of recession, but growth perspectives have been slashed down for next year due to the knock-on effect of the eurozone crisis.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Slovenia, voters surprisingly backed the centre-left party of Zoran Jankovic, mayor of Ljubljana and former head of a supermarket chain. His Positive Slovenia party won 28.5 percent, ahead by more than two points of former conservative premier Janez Jansa's Democratic Party, tipped as a winner by all pollsters. Jankovic's victory came even more as a surprise as his party was founded only seven weeks ago.

Since no party won enough votes to govern alone, assembling a coalition to control at least 46 seats in the parliament will prove challenging. A possible centre-left coalition of Positive Slovenia and the Social Democrats of outgoing Prime Minister Borut Pahor would require at least one more partner.

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