Croatia chooses experience in face of change amid pandemic
By Vesna Bernardic.
Zagreb, Jul 5 (efe-epa).- The conservative ruling party of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic achieved a decisive victory Sunday in Croatia’s parliamentary election under promises of security and experience in managing the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.
The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) won 66 of the 151 seats in parliament, while the opposition Restart coalition, led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP), won 41 seats, with 93 percent of the vote counted.
The conservatives campaigned with the slogan “Safe Croatia,” which reflected the “good performance” of the country, which, with a total of 113 coronavirus deaths so far has suffered less than other European countries.
However, the conservative formation fell short of an absolute majority needed to govern alone.
Analysts believe that the HDZ, which has been in power for 22 of Croatia’s 29 years of independence, could form a government without the far-right Homeland Movement (DP), a newly created party led by a well-known folk singer and therefore a political unknown.
DP controls 16 seats, the right-wing party Most, 8, the new group of left-wing greens Možemo, 7, while two centrist parties, Pametno and HNS, will also have mandates with 3 seats and 1 respectively.
Although there are as yet no complete results, participation is considered to have been less than 50 percent.
“Many voters did not go to the polls for fear of contagion,” said former conservative prime minister Jadranka Kosor, who warned of the spike in COVID-19 cases, with record numbers of new infections and poor forecasts by epidemiologists.
The voting took place under special preventive measures, but that same caution did not prevail in the electoral centers of the parties, the winner’s included.
Images from HDZ’s triumphant polling station and other parties that achieved good results, such as DP and Most, showed politicians without masks hugging and kissing during the celebrations.
All analysts agree that the results are a disaster for the SDP, which had its worst result since 1995, much less than the polls predicted.
Some representatives of the SDP have already called for the resignation of their leader Davor Bernardic, who failed to counter the conservatives’ rhetoric.
The defeat is especially serious when you consider that the Social Democrats came out in these elections within a large coalition, Restart, with a dozen center-left parties.
Bernardic, considered by many to be a politician without charisma or message, failed to take advantage of the fact that 70 percent of citizens felt in a recent poll that the Plenkovic government was leading the country in the wrong direction.
Nor did he capitalize on general discontent over the numerous corruption scandals that have rocked the government.
According to the June Eurobarometer, 97 percent of Croatian citizens think that corruption is widespread in the country.
The surprise of these elections, in addition to the good result of HDZ and the big defeat of the SDP, is the relatively good result of the new leftist bloc Možemo.
One of the Možemo leaders, Sandra Bencic, believes that her group did not take votes away from the SDP, but managed to mobilize those voters who for years did not go to the polls because they did not have anyone to vote for. EFE-EPA