Croatia's political life in 2015 marked by elections

In the political sense, the year 2015 was marked by two elections in Croatia: the presidential vote at the beginning of the year when Croatia got the first woman head of state and the presidential polls towards the end of the year when the two major blocs led by the two strongest parties, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), finished first and second but could not form a government without "Bridge", a king-maker reformist party.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, supported by the HDZ-led coalition, won the presidential runoff on 11 January, and her victory meant that an HDZ candidate was coming back to the presidential office after 15 years.

Grabar-Kitarovic defeated the then incumbent Ivo Josipovic by a narrow margin,  50.7% to 49.3%, although media and opinion polls had predicted a strong victory for Josipovic.

Following those developments, Josipovic, who had been the SDP candidate, left the SDP after he and the party leader Zoran Milanovic parted ways.

On November 8, Croatians went to the polls to elect deputies for the 151-seat eighth legislature. The HDZ-led coalition, called "Patriotic Coalition", won 59 seats, and the SDP-led "Croatia Is Growing" coalition was second with 56 seats, while the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), which ran in the election on its own and won three seats, stated they would side with the SDP-led camp.

The biggest surprise in the election that resulted in a hung parliament was "Bridge", an alliance of slates of independents and members of the Bridge reformist party, that emerged third. Bridge won 19 seats and without it neither the SDP-led coalition nor the HDZ-led coalition could form a parliamentary majority. In the meantime, four elected deputies left Bridge and, after weeks-long negotiations, Bridge and its 15 elected lawmakers decided to agree with the HDZ to form a new cabinet.

The agreement between the HDZ-led coalition and Bridge resulted in the nomination of a non-partisan technocrat, Tihomir Oreskovic, as the Prime Minister-designate.

Oreskovic, who was born in Zagreb in 1966 and has been a senior executive in pharmaceutical companies in Canada, including Teva, and Pliva in Zagreb, before this nomination, is expected to propose his cabinet in January 2016.

Oreskovic's nomination as the PM-Designate also facilitated attempts to form a majority in the parliament, and on 28 December, the eighth parliament held its inaugural session by appointing HDZ official Zeljko Reiner as its speaker.

During 2015, 17 cities, towns and municipalities held early local elections and the HDZ and its partners won the early polls in seven cities and municipalities, the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) won in one unit of local self-government, the SDP and the Croatian People's Party (HNS), a junior partner in the SDP-led coalition at the state level, won the elections in two units of local self-government each, and independents won the elections in the remainder of those local polls.

Last update: Thu, 31/12/2015 - 11:33

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