Croatia to hold general elections on September 11, president says

By bne IntelliNews July 18, 2016

Croatia will hold early general elections on September 11, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic announced on July 16, one day after the parliament was dissolved.

Croatia is organizing snap elections after the coalition government made up of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Bridge of Independent Lists (Most) collapsed last month when technocratic Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic lost a confidence vote.

The elections will be organised less than a year after the previous ones held in November last year, which ended inconclusively and generated political deadlock due to long negotiations between Most, which emerged as kingmaker, and the two biggest parties, HDZ and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Then, the SDP-led coalition received 39.15% of votes, the HDZ-led coalition won 26.04%, while Most got 18.39%.

Although recent polls show support for SDP has increased, the early elections look unlikely to bring about a radically different result from November’s elections. According to a survey commissioned by Promocija Plus earlier in July, SDP would win 31.8% of the votes, while HDZ would get 22.7% of the vote. Most would be backed by 9.8% of the voters.

Technocratic Prime Minister Oreskovic lost the confidence vote in parliament on June 16, when 125 deputies in the 250-seat parliament voted against him. The confidence vote had been called by the HDZ, shortly after the SDP filed a no-confidence motion against HDZ leader and Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko.

Karamarko resigned from his post on June 15, hours after the parliamentary conflict of interest committee said that he had been guilty of a conflict of interest over his wife’s business links to a lobbyist working for the Hungarian energy company MOL.

HDZ elected on July 17 member of the European Parliament Andrej Plenkovic as its leader, public broadcaster HRT reports. Plenkovic was the only candidate for the post. He said after casting his ballot at the HDZ leadership election that he will focus on his party's victory in the general elections and that HDZ will start talks with potential coalition partners, according to Hina news agency.

Plenkovic said his party is open for a new cooperation with Most, “I think that we have space for a new page of cooperation," Plenkovic said.

Meanwhile, the SDP, the Croatian People's Party (HNS), Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) and Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) signed on July 16 an agreement to run together in the coming elections.

The upcoming elections will be the ninth general elections organised in Croatia since the country became independent in 1991.

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