Croatia Votes to Elect New Parliament

Clash between pro-European Prime Minister Plenkovic and the coalition led by Croatian President Zoran Milanovic's Social Democratic Party

Some 3.8 million eligible Croatian voters were called to the polls on Wednesday, April 17, to elect 151 members of the Croatian Parliament (Sabor). The previous legislative election was held about four years ago, in July 2020. In Croatia, election day has been declared “day off,” with 6500 polling stations open from 7:00 to 19:00.

As specified by the Croatian CEC, 140 out of 151 deputies will be elected in 10 electoral districts of the Balkan country. Three deputies will be elected by Croatian citizens living abroad, while the remaining eight will represent ethnic minorities. Some 5400 Croatian and international observers will monitor the correctness of the vote.

Opinion polls suggest that the coalition, led by the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party and incumbent Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who has been in government since 2016, should win the bulk of voters’ preferences while failing to win a majority to govern. During campaign rallies, Plenkovic asked voters to express confidence for a third consecutive mandate, emphasizing the successes of his government’s foreign policy, including Croatia’s accession to Schengen and the eurozone in 2023. Plenkovic, considered by many to be “sincerely pro-European,” chose “stability, security, and development” as his campaign slogan.

The second most important political force in Croatia, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), in opposition for 8 years and a historic rival to the HDZ, accuses Plenkovic of “corruption and nepotism” and built its first election campaign on promises to launch a relentless fight against corruption and for higher salaries and pensions. The Social Democrats lead a coalition called Rijeka Pravde (River of Truth), which is backed by incumbent President Zoran Milanovic, who even said he wanted to run for prime minister, but abandoned the idea after a negative verdict from the Constitutional Court. Milanovic, who was already Croatia’s prime minister from 2011 to 2016, has taken an anti-European stance. The president criticized Brussels’s support for Ukraine after the start of the conflict with Russia.