Why the friendly to Ukraine Croatian government may fall

Wednesday, 20 March 2024

On 17 April, Croatia is set to hold snap parliamentary elections as a result of massive protests that swept across the country earlier this year.

On 13 March, the parliament was dissolved, officially marking the start of the election campaign.

Elections to the European Parliament are set to be held on 9 June, in addition to Croatia's parliamentary elections on 17 April. Moreover, Croatia's presidential elections are scheduled for the last months of the year.

The results of the upcoming elections could be of utmost importance for Ukraine, notes Volodymyr Tsybulnyk, the interim Chargé d'Affaires of Ukraine in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2018), in his article – Croatia may face a pro-Russian turn: Why is collapse of pro-Ukrainian government possible.


This year's elections have been marked with several scandalous stories.

Let's start with the fact that they might not have taken place at all, as last summer the government changed the territories of electoral districts, affecting about 20% of them.

The reason was a significant reduction (over 5%) in the number of voters due to high mortality rates and a significant level of emigration.

In turn, changes in districts required changes in the corresponding law, voted on in October.

But back then, there were violations of constitutional requirements regarding the terms of approval, publication of the official notice, and the date of signing by the president.

The situation is still challenging. So, it cannot be ruled out that someone who loses may appeal to the Constitutional Court to declare the elections invalid...

Moreover, even more scandalous was the decision of President Zoran Milanović (one of the leaders of the Social Democratic Party – SDP) to participate in the elections and claim the position of prime minister.

In general, the leaders of three parties have submitted "applications" for the position of prime minister.

Such a violation of traditions and unwritten rules of elections has never happened before, as the PM candidacy was proposed by the party (bloc) that formed the parliamentary majority.

The Constitutional Court issued a ruling that the President of the Republic of Croatia Zoran Milanović cannot participate in political activities of any political party while performing his duties.

But what if the president leaves his party and runs for the Sabor as an independent candidate?

It is not ruled out that this issue will become relevant for Croatia...

President Milanović has a strong reputation as one of the most pro-Russian heads of state in the EU.

Milanović's and his party's (successors of the communist party) victory could lead to radical changes not only in foreign policy but also in attempts to change the entire political architecture of Croatia, which most of Croatians will not like.

The bloc though formed by the SDP is one of the race leaders – about 13% of Croats are ready to vote for it. It includes not only the left but also anti-system parties: socialists, greens, anti-globalists, extreme nationalists, communists, and other left-wing parties.

But if the party decides to run on its own, it could get nearly 18%.

And this raises questions about the real chances of Milanović's political force to succeed.

Despite all the scandals, the party of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), remains the favourite in the elections – about 26.6% of Croats are ready to vote for it, and for its bloc – about 36%.

It is unclear, however, whether this will be enough to form a majority. Moreover, the current government has been hit hard by scandals in recent months.

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