Posts in "Croatia" Category

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.

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The new European Parliament on Twitter: look who’s talking


Download our PDF infographic of the new European Parliament on Twitter

As predicted, more MEPs are on Twitter than ever before (531 compared to 408 in the previous EP), and almost half are tweeting every day.

Our infographic of the new European Parliament on Twitter shows this increase in the number of Twitter users also brings in some significant new faces: Pablo Iglesias, a Spanish Podemos MEP who is the radical left candidate for the presidency of the European Parliament, has more than 400,000 followers – far ahead of leading tweeters from the last parliament (such as Marine Le Pen, Martin Schulz or Nigel Farage). The GUE/NGL Group also has the biggest proportion of daily tweeters.

On the opposite side of the hemicycle, nearly 80% of MEPs from the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) Group are on Twitter. The group also features the Parliament’s two most prolific tweeters (both new MEPs from the UK Independence Party – it remains to be seen if they will remain so active when they take up their roles as MEPs).

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Building a new Commission – the runners and riders for the next College

[infopane color=”6″ icon=”0049.png”]Post updated later on Wednesday 11 June to account for news that Dacian Cioloș (Agriculture and Rural Development; Romania) may be re-nominated to the Commission.[/infopane]

With the choice of a President of the European Commission still up in the air, we are a long way off knowing the full team that will occupy the upper floors of the Berlaymont for the next five years.

Nevertheless, national governments are already putting forward their proposed nominees to sit in the new College. Here’s our look at the comings and goings in the Commission in 2014, and the potential candidates to take a seat in the new Commission.

If you have comments or suggestions, please include them in the comments box.

See our country-by-country guide to the potential nominees

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Elections round-up: EPP loses but stays as biggest group, while anti-EU parties surge

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Europe’s voters have backed a vast array of anti-EU and anti-establishment voters in the 2014 European Parliament elections, sending fewer MEPs from each of the main political groups back to Brussels and Strasbourg.

Despite being the biggest loser of the night in terms of seats, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) looks like emerging as the biggest party in the European Parliament with its support holding up in Germany and Poland among the larger member states, and good support across central and Eastern Europe. The Socialists are also set to lose a handful of seats, with the Liberals likely to lose around 20 seats according to the latest projections.

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Who and what will shape health policy in the coming years?

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????By this time next week, we may be starting to witness momentous change in the European Union: new people, a new policy direction, and a new paradigm in the way the institutions relate to each other. But where will these changes leave health policy?

The results of the broader policy discussions that affect the healthcare sector – and in particular the pharmacutical and medical devices industries – may take a while to become clear. The results of negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and reform of the Troika could take several years to become clear, although we can begin to predict the impact the new European Commission and European Parliament will have on them.

In some cases, this could mean more battles ahead: for example, Martin Schulz – the Party of European Socialists‘ candidate for the Commission presidency –  has stated his commitment to TTIP, but many Socialists are reluctant to accept many key elements of the potential agreement, such as the investor-state dispute settlement, and this opposition could cause headaches for European businesses.

In more detailed healthcare policy terms, there is perhaps more clarity, and also a bit more certainty following the developments of the last five years.

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Italy’s Commission nominee: recycling à la Renzi


When it comes to this year’s European Parliament elections, Italy is lagging behind.

So far, none of the major parties have announced their full lists for the election, and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (pictured right) is yet to put forward a nominee to be a European commissioner.

The reason for these delays is the high level of uncertainty on the Italian political scene. Renzi won the leadership of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) in December; two months later he ousted Enrico Letta to take control of a reshuffled government.

The centre-right has fragmented, with ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia re-emerging and the New Centre-Right being established. Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) has sown further confusion with its unpredictable policies and personalities.

It is in this political climate that Renzi will need to consider potential candidates for Italy’s nomination to the European Commission.

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50 days to go, 50 things to know about Europe’s year of change

The countdown continues: at 08:00 CET on Wednesday 2 April, there are exactly 50 days to go to the opening of the polls for the European Parliament elections.

Here is our overview of where we stand and what you need to know about Europe’s year of change:

Top jobs | Country-by-country | PollWatch 2014 | The elections and beyond | Reading list

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Coalitions, commissioners and election sandwiches: the European elections in Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia

With the European Parliament election campaign hotting up across the continent, we take a snapshot of the situation in Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia.

Blogpost compiled with the support of Chapter 4, Burson-Marsteller’s exclusive affiliate in South East and Central and Eastern Europe. 


Plenary session week 3 2014 - Hercule III programme and protection of the European Union's financial interests

The European election in Croatia will be a crucial examination for the ruling left-wing coalition, led by the Social Democrats (SDP).

The government has just entered the second half of its mandate and has faced several scandals, often clumsily handled. The SDP has suffered its worst opinion poll scores in several years and there have been internal clashes.

While the election will be a test of credibility for the ruling party, it is also a chance to test the strength of the main opponent, the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ – a member of the European People’s Party), which is still dogged by memories of corruption scandals from its long period in power.

Given the troubles for the two main parties, an opportunity opens for several other groups to position themselves. Dozens of new parties that have been founded in the last twelve months will face their first test.

See our list of European Parliament election candidates in Croatia

The SDP and HDZ are both running in the election at the head of a coalition (the HDZ is leading the right-wing Union for Croatia, whose list includes Ruža Tomašić (pictured), an MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group).

Last year’s inaugural European election in Croatia saw a scramble for positions on the lists, with the posts in Brussels being seen as prestigious and lucrative – a common statute for MEPs means that Croatian members are paid vastly more than parliamentarians in Zagreb. This year will see a repeat.

However, one Social Democrat who is likely to stand in the election will almost certainly not take up his seat: the current Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Neven Mimica, is likely to be Croatia’s nominee to the European Commission for the second time.

See our list of potential nominees to the European Commission from Croatia

On 19 March Croatian president Ivo Josipović announced that the elections will be held on 25 May, expressing his wish that all parties talk about the possibilities Croatia has as an EU member.

Viktor Orbán, on the left, and José Manuel Barroso

Few people in Hungary are discussing the European elections, with a general election due to take place in less than three weeks’ time.

Indeed, the European poll is part of an ‘election sandwich’, with municipal elections due to take place in the autumn.

See our list of European Parliament election candidates in Hungary

At the moment, the centre-right government of Viktor Orbán (pictured) is set to win a big majority in the new Hungarian parliament. His party, Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union, is set to win half of all votes, with the centre-left Unity coalition, featuring the Socialists, at around 25%. The extreme-right Jobbik – Movement for a Better Hungary party is currently set to win around 15% of the vote.

The new electoral system will see one round of voting, a parliament that is almost halved in size, and a greater emphasis on constituency seats rather than party lists. There is a threshold for entry into parliament of five per cent for single parties; more for combined lists.

After the national elections, the parties will start to focus on Europe; indeed, Fidesz is due to publish its list of candidates only after the election. One potentially interesting development is the high score for Jobbik in the opinion polls, especially given that European Parliament elections see a surge in support for fringe parties.

Hungary’s nominee to the European Commission is likely to come from Fidesz if the party, as expected, wins the national election. The likely nominee is also set to head the party’s list for the European Parliament election.

See our list of potential nominees to the European Commission from Hungary

Names being mooted are Enikő Győri, the Europe minister and face of the country’s EU presidency in 2011. She has excellent European and international credentials, speaks many languages, and would probably pass the hearing in the Parliament without much difficulty.

Other contenders include the justice minister, Tibor Navracsics, and current MEP József Szájer, who has been in the Parliament since Hungary joined the EU and has worked mainly on constitutional issues.

Janez Potocnik at the EU Hope ConferenceWith just over three months to go to the elections, the political situation in Slovenia is beginning to clarify a little.

On the centre-right, New Slovenia (NSi) and the Slovenian People’s Party (SLS) – both affiliated to the EPP – will run a common list, with Alojz Peterle MEP among the candidates. As for the other EPP-affiliated party, the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), Romana Jordan is set to stand down, but Milan Zver is likely to run again.

The Social Democrats will probably field Tanja Fajon and Mojca Kleva Kekuš – both currently MEPs. But there is also speculation that the party’s President, Igor Lukšič will lead the list. The order of these candidates could be crucial with Positive Slovenia (PS), a party established since the last European election but which now leads the government, likely to compete strongly for seats.

See our list of European Parliament election candidates in Slovenia

PS will join the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group, where Jelko Kacin MEP of Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) and Ivo Vajgl MEP of Zares – Social Liberals currently sit. However, due to the very low public support for LDS Kacin may lose his seat, while Vajgl is now backed by the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (DeSUS) – a centrist party focused on rights of older people.

As for the nominee to the European Commission, Janez Potočnik (pictured), who will not stand in the election, will try to get the government’s support but may face a battle to stay on for a third term (even if it would help secure a more important portfolio for the country’s nominee). In Slovenia, unlike in many other countries, the government has to approve the nomination, not just the prime minister.

See our list of potential nominees to the European Commission from Slovenia