Croatia’s ruling HDZ wins parliamentary elections amid lowest ever voter turnout

Prime minister Andrej Plenkovic’s current term was due to end in October. However, he chose to call for early elections riding on the popularity over his handling of the early phase of COVID-19 outbreak

July 06, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Croatia parliamentary election results
(Photo: Anadolu Agency)

Croatia’s election commission on July 5, Sunday, announced that the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has won the parliamentary election held in the country.

Prime minister Andrej Plenkovic’s current term was due to end in October. However, he chose to call for early elections riding on the popularity over his handling of the early phase of COVID-19 outbreak. This seems to have worked in his favor despite recent blemishes in the record. The government permitted the Adria Tour, an exhibition tennis tournament organized by World number one Novak Djokovic. Prime minister Plenkovic even met the tennis star. But it was revealed that players, including Djokovic, and support staff had tested positive immediately after the leg of the tournament in Croatia.

Croatia has more than 3,150 cases of COVID-19 infection with over 113 deaths.

HDZ increased its previous tally by 10 seats. As per the latest figures, it has got 66 out of the total 151 seats in the parliament after the counting of more than 95% votes. This will be HDZ’s best performance in a decade. It can easily form the government with the help of smaller right-wing parties such as Most (Bridge) which has won eight seats.

Croatia is a parliamentary democracy with a unicameral parliament called Sabor.

Andrej Plenkovic, while addressing his party supporters after the declaration of the results, said that, “support by a majority of Croatian voters is a huge obligation for us and we will take it into account every day over the next four years. We’ll take it into account because Croatia needs solutions for the economy, public health challenges, for strengthening democracy, strengthening institutions, strengthening human rights, minority rights,” Total Croatia News reported.

The main opposition – the liberal Restart Coalition led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) – came in second with 41 seats. The right-wing and Eurosceptic Domovinski Pokret (Homeland Movement), led by singer-turned-politician Miroslav Skoro, came third with 16 seats.

The Homeland Movement is a new entrant to Croatian politics. Its rise confirms the pan-European trend of rising popularity of populist, far-right ideologies. Homeland has taken strong positions against immigration and is widely considered as anti-minority and Eurosceptic.

HDZ shares Homeland Movement’s opinion on the immigrants to a great extent and has used military force to prevent the entry of asylum seekers from its eastern borders. However, Plenkovic, a center-left, pro-EU leader had expressed his reluctance to join hands with Homeland on the ground that it can hamper Croatian relations with the EU.

The pro-immigration Mozemo (We Can), which is part the Green-Left alliance, has got seven seats in the parliament.

The voter turnout for Sunday’s elections (46%) was the lowest ever since Croatia’s separation from the erstwhile Yugoslavia in 1991. The political scene in the country has been dominated by the HDZ ever since its creation.

Croatia is a small country with a population of 4.2 million. Its economy is heavily based on tourism as a source of revenue and employment, which is expected to face a tough challenge this year due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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