The green-left coalition won 7 seats at the Croatian 151-seat parliament, surprising everybody. The turnout was less than 50%, the lowest ever in Croatia’s parliamentary election. The conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) won the biggest chunk of the electorate, while the Social Democratic Party (SDP) suffered a heavy blow to its position. Several right-wing parties won seats, too.
With 66 seats in the parliament HDZ is a landslide winner of the elections. The Restart Coalition, gathered around SDP, will send just 41 representatives to Sabor, 15 fewer than to the previous parliament. The media is already speculating whether SDP will face restructuring. SDP’s leader Bernadić announced his decision to step down from presidency in the aftermath of his party’s electoral defeat.
Miroslav Škoro’s Homeland Movement came third in terms of the number of mandates. As Deutsche Welle writes, this party played the cards of “sovereignty, nationalism and the fight against the political influence of the Serbian national minority”. In other words, it exploited a right-wing sentiment spiced with misogynistic outbursts.
HDZ’s shift towards the centre of the political spectrum opened up space for actors with a more pronounced right-wing politics and rhetoric, such as the Homeland Movement. This helped them gain as much as 16 seats in Parliament. However, contrary to his hopes, Škoro will still not be indispensable for forming a government.
The right-wing party Most (the Bridge) won 8 seats, the liberal coalition Pametno (Smart) 3, the HNS and the Reformists one seat each.
A green-left political option for the 21st century enters the Parliament
The biggest surprise of the election, however, is the success of the green-left coalition, comprising We Can!, the New Left, the Workers’ Front, ORaH (Sustainable Development of Croatia), Zagreb Is Ours and For the City.
As Katarina Pavičić-Ivelja, a MP candidate who featured on the coalition’s list for the eight electoral district (roughly: Istria and Rijeka), stated for Mašina, they entered the campaign hoping to win three or four seats. In that light, the results of the elections prove to be very encouraging:
The Workers’ Front won a mandate in the eighth electoral district, which I am especially glad about. Namely, it shows that the citizens have finally recognized the need for a true political left, the one which we really need: a left that stands for the people, for workers’ and women’s rights, for green policies.
By winning a substantial number of seats, the We Can! – the New Left – the Workers’ Front – ORaH (Sustainable Development of Croatia) – Zagreb Is Ours – For the City stopped being a marginal political option. The voters won’t have to wonder any more if they are “throwing away” their votes by giving it to this coalition. Another coalition’s MP candidate, Jelena Miloš, commented on the election results similarly:
We are happy with the election results because the green left will enter the parliament for the first time. This is a historic moment for us, proof that all the effort has paid off and that there is room for the green left in the political space. At the same time, we are concerned about the rise of the right and the extreme right and we will do everything in our power to oppose the right in Parliament.
Ivelja explained that the right-wing parties used the election campaign to threaten women’s rights, while the green-left coalition advocates for the defence of existing rights and their expansion.
It is necessary to hear the voice of a true anti-capitalist option in the Parliament, one which will advocate against privatization and in favour of public health.
The greatest success of the We Can! – the New Left – the Workers’ Front – ORaH (Sustainable Development of Croatia) – Zagreb Is Ours – For the City at these elections was achieved in Zagreb. Parts of the Croatian capital belong to four electoral districts, from which a total of 6 MPs will come. This is a good starting point for the upcoming power struggle in the Croatian capital, which Tomislav Tomašević, one of the leaders of the coalition, has already announced in his post-election speech. In the last few years Tomašević has been the most active opposition politician in the local assembly.
While some “accuse” the green-left coalition of “picking up” (and even “stealing”) SDP votes, others are inclined to explain the SDP’s election fiasco and the growth of small parties and coalitions at least in part by low turnout. Namely, while in 2015 as many as 62% of voters exercised their constitutional right, the following year eight percent less voted, and this year not even half of the electorate, i.e. only 46% of voters participated. According to some estimates, this helped the small parties to win seats with fewer votes in their favour, but also enabled the HDZ to reach an almost absolute majority with fewer votes than it attracted previously.
Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić
This article was originally published in Serbian on Jul 6, 2020.