By Sven Milekic
The centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, is in the lead in Croatia’s general elections with 61 seats, followed by their main opponents, the centre-left Social Democratic Party, SDP, with 54 seats, according to the first preliminary results.
First results in the Croatian elections published by the State Election Commission after counting votes at 71 per cent polling stations put the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, in the lead after winning 61 seats.
“The HDZ’s mandates [seats] show we are the pivotal Croatian political party. These results match my expectations. We can already see the contours of the future government led by Andrej Plenkovic [HDZ leader],” said Zlatko Hasanbegovic, the HDZ vice-president, on TV N1.
“We’ll continue talks with partners and friends. MOST and HDZ will form the backbone of the future Croatian government,” he added, referring to the centre-right Bridge of the Independent Lists.
The HDZ is followed by its biggest rival, the centre-left Social Democratic Party, SDP, whose People’s Coalition won 54 seats.
The first results are a major disappointment for the People’s Coalition and its leader, Zoran Milanovic, as they were seen as the likely winner by all recent opinion polls.
As all pre-elections opinion polls indicated, the centre-right MOST has come third, with 12 seats, and will again play a major role in forming the future coalition government, as it did after the last elections in November.
The early elections were scheduled in July, after the last coalition government of HDZ and MOST fell in June.
The coalition Only Option, gathered around the anti-establishment party Living Wall won eight seats and is the fourth strongest party, as was expected before the elections.
A regional party, the Istrian Democratic Assembly, IDS, won four seats, while the coalition around the Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic won two seats.
The right-wing region party, the Croatian Democratic Alliance of Slavonia and Baranja, HDSSB, won one seat.
Regarding the three seats from the diaspora and the Bosnian Croats, the HDZ lost one seat for the first time, which went to the independent Zeljko Glasnovic, who won the seat in the same constituency for the HDZ in November.
The turnout in the election was 52.38 per cent, according to the State Electoral Commission. Of 3.8 million people registered to vote, 1.9 million cast ballots. The turnout was 8 per cent lower than in last November’s elections.
Besides 140 seats in ten constituencies in Croatia, eight seats are guaranteed to national minorities and three for Bosnian Croats and the diaspora, making 151 seats in total.
An important role in forming the government will be played by the national minorities’ representatives.
Experts earlier told BIRN that a new coalition government of HDZ and MOST looked far more likely than a grand coalition between the SDP and HDZ.
Croatian voters told BIRN on polling day that they do not expect much from the new government.
“I don’t remember the last time a government proved itself or kept its promises. Nevertheless, even a small step forward would be good,” Tina, 31 and unemployed, told BIRN.
“I don’t expect anything to change with a new government. Again, the poor will be ill treated, and the people in power will again deal with World War II issues like the [anti-fascist] Partisans, [fascist] Ustasa and [Serbian nationalistic movement] Chetniks. I think another 50 years will have to pass until we can start to focus on normal topics,” Slobodan, a 62-year-old company manager, told BIRN.
Ana, a 33-year-old writer, also told BIRN that she had few expectations.
“I hope the government will finally start to deal with economic problems, not unproductive ideological quarrels. However, I am afraid things won’t change much and everything will remain as absurd as it has been in recent months,” she said.
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