By Sven Milekic
Following his party’s defeat in the Croatian general election, Zoran Milanovic on Monday said he will not stand again for the leadership of the centre-left Social Democratic Party, SDP.
Following his party’s defeat in Croatia’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, the president of the leading centre-left Social Democratic Party, SDP, Zoran Milanovic, on Monday announced he will not be running in the internal party elections for the leadership that will be held within five months.
“After yesterday’s results, I won’t run again for president of the SDP… I am to blame for all this,” he told a press conference at party headquarters in Zagreb on Monday.
“We have seen the results – the turnout was the smallest ever. It went in favour of the HDZ. This is a fact that should be accepted and not analysed too much,” he continued.
Milanovic said the “chances are minimal” that the SDP-led People’s Coalition will form a new government with the third-placed centre-right MOST party.
The SDP-led centre-left People’s Coalition won 54 seats on Sunday, well behind their biggest centre-right rivals, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, who won 61 seats.
Milanovic took over the party leadership in 2007, after its first president, former Prime Minister Ivica Racan, died. Over the years, Milanovic introduced some new faces while some “familiar faces” became marginalized.
Parttly due to the fall in turnout compared to last November’s elections – 52.59 per cent instead of 60.82 – the SDP’s vote fell from around 788,000 then to around 637,000 votes on Sunday, a fall of almost 20 per cent. The HDZ, which was part of the discredited government that fell in June, lost only around 75,000 votes.
The results of the People’s Coalition look even worse compared to the SDP-led “Kukuriku Coalition” in 2011 – when the regional Istrian Democratic Assembly, IDS, was part of the coalition – which won around 958,000 votes. Compared to 2011, the centre-left bloc has lost over a third of its voters.
After the Kukuriku Coalition won the 2011 elections against the HDZ, which was then compromised by numerous allegations of corruption, Milanovic became the Prime Minister. But his government was hampered by the economic recession, from which Croatia only started to emerge in 2015.
Milanovic won comfortably the last internal party elections in April, against SDP veteran Zlatko Komadina.
For now, it is not known when the internal party elections will be held or who will be the candidates for president.