Croatia’s main parties court reformist newcomers after inconclusive vote

Post updated on 13 November 2015 with new section ‘A Bridge too far?’

What’s happened?

Parliamentary elections held on 8 November saw the closest outcome in Croatia’s democratic history.

The centre-right Patriotic Coalition won 59 seats while the outgoing centre-left pact, Croatia is Growing, won 56 seats. With the three seats won by regionalist party IDS, which backed the last government, the result is a dead-heat between the two major coalitions.

The dark horse in these elections, the Bridge (Most) won 19 seats and holds the balance of power. The new party is committed to economic and political reform and has already proposed a national unity government with both of the main coalitions.

A record 61 parties proposed candidates. Others to win seats included BM365, the coalition formed by the Mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandic, which won two seats.

Croatia votes FINAL

Next steps

After such a close vote, the process of forming the next Croatian government will be very difficult. Negotiations may last until the end of the year.

Both of the main coalitions will seek the support of the Bridge, which has announced a detailed list of reforms they would like to implement. At the moment, there are even suggestions that a technical government could be formed so that minimal state affairs can be handled and the government’s ability to take important decisions would not be compromised.

Political / business impact

Given expectations that the coalition discussions may last for two months, there are concerns that the government’s ‘time-out’ will impact the economy negatively.

There is definitely a need for a quick solution to prepare the reforms that are needed to strengthen Croatia’s economy, which has finally started to recover.

Update: A Bridge too far?

On Thursday 12 November a leading member of the Bridge and a potential prime minister, Drago Prgomet, was expelled from the party for independently leading negations with the current Social Democratic Prime Minister, Zoran Milanović (pictured), without the knowledge of the Bridge’s National Council.

The Bridge said it no longer considered Prgomet as a member but that he would keep his seat in Parliament.

There are now rumours that those MPs elected under the Bridge banner could split into two factions: the first group, with 11 MPs and led by  Prgomet, siding with the outgoing centre-left coalition; the second, led by party leader Bozo Petrov and with eight members, siding with the centre-right coalition.

Such a split would favour Milanović and his ‘Croatia is Growing’ coalition. But if the Bridge does not line up entirely with the centre-left, then there is a prospect of the left-right split being exacerbated, and new elections soon.

Words  Chapter 4 Communications, Zagreb
Image  CC/Flickr Nicolas Raymond – free image available at www.freestock.ca; (c) European Union, 2015

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