Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenkovic said on July 25 that the party will run independently in the September 11 general election, although it will continue to cooperate with partners in individual constituencies.
The HDZ, the senior partner in the country's caretaker government, elected European Parliament member Plenkovic as its new leader on July 17, only two months before the September 11 snap polls. With the appointment of Plenkovic, the centre-right HDZ is clearly seeking to recover public support recently eroded under its former leader Tomislav Karamarko. Given that the election could result in another coalition between the HDZ and the Bridge of Independent Lists (Most), Plenkovic is a possible candidate for the country's next prime minister.
In the last election, HDZ ran on the Patriotic Coalition ticket. It was the major party within the coalition, which also comprised several smaller parties. After the election, the Patriotic Coalition teamed up with Most to form the government.
However, Plenkovic said the party would go it alone in the upcoming election, signalling a break from the past.
“HDZ is the pivot and the strongest Croatian political party, and I want it to be seen in the elections ... In the new circumstances, we have a new concept - which we consider will be beneficial and successful in the elections,” Plenkovic said according to a statement posted on the HDZ’s website.
He added that he “will not allow any party - including former partners - to blackmail the HDZ”, hinting at problems within the Patriotic Coalition. One of the HDZ’s former partners, the Croatian Peasants’ Party (HSS) has already quit to join a rival coalition led by the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Plenkovic also said that the party would unveil its new programme soon, and indicated the focus would be on the economy.
According to a latest poll by Nova TV conducted between July 1 and July 18 on 974 Croatian citizens, SDP’s support declined to 29.2% from 30.9% last month while Plenkovic-led HDZ’s support jumped to 28.3% from 21.5%. Most and Zivi Zid saw declines in their public support to 11.4% and 6.8%, respectively, Total Croatia News reported.
Leaders of the People’s Coalition, which includes SDP, Croatian People's Party (HNS), HSS and the Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU), signed an agreement on running together at the coming parliamentary election on July 16, About Croatia reported.
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