Croatia’s conservatives were poised to remain in power after winning a snap election but will have to begin coalition talks to form a government after falling short of a majority. The close result does little to dispel political uncertainty in the EU’s newest member but the new conservative leader – now likely to be prime minister – has signalled a shift towards the centre after a lurch to the right. The conservative HDZ won 61 seats while its centre-left opposition rivals, the Social Democrats (SDP), had 54, according to results from nearly all polling stations. Slovenia and Croatia ban transit of refugees to other European countries “I’m certain that we are the party that will have the privilege of forming the next stable Croatian government,” HDZ’s new moderate leader, Andrej Plenkovic, told supporters early on Monday.
The election was the country’s second in less than a year after the previous barely functioning coalition government led by the HDZ collapsed in June over a conflict of interest scandal after just five months in power.
However, the HDZ did not secure an absolute majority in the 151-seat parliament, and its former junior government partner, the Most party (“bridge” in Croatian), is likely to play kingmaker once again. The Most party came third with 13 seats.
… The previous HDZ-led coalition’s five-month rule was marked by a shift to the right amid a growing climate of intolerance, including attacks on independent media and minorities, notably ethnic Serbs.