Croatia's HDZ continues winning streak in second round of local polls

Croatia's HDZ continues winning streak in second round of local polls
By Akin Nazli in Belgrade June 5, 2017

Independent Zagreb mayor Mikan Bandic was re-elected in the second round of Croatia’s local elections on June 4, but overall the preliminary results from the vote show a continued strong showing for the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) which took Split and a number of smaller cities. 

The local polls were seen as a popular confidence vote for the troubled ruling party. The HDZ’s parliamentary majority is currently in question after Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic decided last month to split the coalition with his junior partner the Bridge of Independent Lists (Most). 

With the local elections out the way, it is now crunch time for the HDZ, which will have to try to secure a parliamentary majority to appoint four new ministers to replace the former Most ministers. Plenkovic previously said he would launch talks to appoint the new ministers after the first round of the local elections. The new ministers will be presented to the parliament after the second round of local polls, according to the prime minister.

The key victory for the HDZ on June 4 was in Split, the second largest city, where the party’s candidate Andro Krstulovic Opara claimed victory. The result was hailed by Plenkovic, who stressed that the HDZ had thereby achieved its pre-election goal of winning in at least one of the four largest cities of Croatia.

However, independent candidate Zeljko Kerum announced that he would ask ballots to be counted again due to around 11% of invalid ballots. Opara declared his victory with only a 2% margin with Kerum, according to Hina. Kerum also announced that he will demand the election to be repeated.

Preliminary results indicate Bandic will serve his sixth term as mayor of the Croatian capital despite being the subject of several corruption cases. 

In the other major cities, opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Vojko Obersnel was reelected in Rijeka, the third largest city, while independent candidate Ivan Vrkic won in Osijek.

HDZ candidates also won the elections in Dubrovnik, Split-Dalmatia County Prefect, Osijek-Baranja County-Prefect, Dubrovnik-Neretva County Prefect and Vukovar-Srijem County Prefect.

Only some towns and cities held second-round elections on June 4, as in others a candidate had been elected in the first round after taking over 50% of the vote. 

In the first round held on May 21, HDZ won a majority in 12 city councils while the main opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) won the majority in just five cities.

The Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) won a majority of the seats in only one city council while Bandic’s party kept its dominant position in the Zagreb parliament.