The ruling HDZ wins the parliamentary elections in Croatia, but falls short of a majority. The election campaign was marked by scandal.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković drinks from a glass of champagne

The current Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, has a good chance of remaining in office.

SARAJEVO taz | According to almost complete results, the conservative ruling party won the most seats in Croatia's parliamentary elections on Wednesday, but fell short of a majority. After more than 90 percent of polling stations were counted, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's ruling HDZ party won 60 of the 151 seats in Zagreb's parliament, six fewer than in the 2020 election.

Around 3.7 million voters were called to the polls on Wednesday in the EU country and turnout exceeded 50 percent, which is very high for Croatia. After a bitter election campaign between conservative Plenković and his rival, social democrat Zoran Milanović, voter turnout was significantly higher than four years ago.

“Starting tomorrow morning we will begin to form a new parliamentary majority to form our third government,” Plenković said. SDP leader Pedja Grbin stated that the results were not as desired. However, they showed “that people want change.” Talks about a possible coalition with right-wing parties will begin on Thursday.

The HDZ and SDP must now negotiate with smaller partners on the right and left to form a coalition. A center-left alliance led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) won 42 seats, while the right-wing nationalist “National Movement DP” came in third with 14 seats. The ultra-conservative “Most” party and the left-wing green party “Mozemo” won eleven and ten seats respectively.

Electoral campaign with mutual accusations

The election campaign focused on the bitter rivalry between the country's president and prime minister. After calling elections, Milanović surprisingly announced his candidacy for the position of prime minister. The Constitutional Court intervened and declared that Milanović must first resign as president in order to run for a seat in parliament.

The issue sparked widespread protests, which Milanović ignored. He remained in office and continued his campaign. “Now everyone does what they want, there are no rules anymore,” explained former editor and political commentator Nenad Popovic angrily. Other campaign issues included the eurozone's highest inflation rate, labor shortages, illegal migration and reports of widespread corruption.

Milanović accused the HDZ of “massive theft” of state funds. Plenković, who has been in power since 2016, responded and warned that Milanović could bring EU and NATO member Croatia closer to Russia as prime minister. The language used during the election campaign and the mutual accusations reached a level reminiscent of the meetings of alcoholics in Lower Bavaria, explain the German-Croat scoffers.

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