Road to EU 2024

Elections in Croatia reconfirm HDZ as the biggest party

April 2024
By Editorial Staff

With 61 out of 151 seats, HDZ (the Croatian Democratic Union) is again the biggest party standing out from the Croatian elections. As announced by acting Prime Minister Plenković, it will start negotiations to form a Government.

The Croatian elections were supposed to take place in July but were subsequently brought forward to April 17 following the dissolution of the government. The Croatians’ call to the polls ended up under the observers’ lens due to being the first round of national elections to occur before the European elections, scheduled for June 6-9.

Croatian citizens keenly felt the desire to participate. A record number of people went to polls – 62,30%.

A sharp clash between acting Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President of State Zoran Milanovic marked the Croatian elections, with the President’s accusations towards the PM characterized by over-the-top rhetoric.

Despite this, HDZ, the premier’s party, maintained a solid 30 percent in voting intentions until the polls closed and remained the leading force once results started coming. The party dominated the political scene since Croatia’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. The leftist coalition maintained an election campaign of anti-corruption slogans, with promises to “raise salaries and pensions”, but lacked proper programs and ideas.

The biggest surprise was undoubtedly the president of Croatia Zoran Milanoviccoming down on the side of the Socialists against the acting prime minister, although even the Constitutional Court ruled against Milanovic in a negative opinion.

According to Croatian law, the President must remain impartial and independent from politics, and cannot participate in party activities. This includes being on the list of candidates for the prime minister’s seat. Milanovic’s resignation as the Head of State could resolve this issue, which he refused to commit, asserting that it would happen “only in case of victory.”

Not even the Constitution prevented Milanovic from going all-in against Plenkovic, leveraging the common perception that his opponent’s umbrella party was full of corrupt elements. However, that narrative brought to the left coalition in the end only one mandate more than in 2020 when Milanovic did not participate in the campaign.

Support for Ukraine also became an element of personalization in the campaign, with constant name-calling by Milanovic and linking the war to the rising migrant phenomenon.

Now the scene shifts to the outcome of the impending European elections in the nation, which will either confirm or not the success of the HDZ campaign. Eyes are also on the approaching presidential elections slated for December 2024, with a second round in January 2025 should none of the candidates achieve the necessary majority.