Thursday, 12 November 2015

My analysis of and thoughts on the recent Croatian parliamentary election

A few days ago, Croatia held its most recent parliamentary election, with the two opposing coalitions of Patriotic Coalition and Croatia is Growing neck and neck at many points in opinion polls leading up to Croatia's election day of 8 November. It was the centre-right Patriotic Coalition, led by the Croatian Democratic Union, who emerged top of the poll in the end, though, if only by 59 seats to the 56 for Croatia is Growing, led by the Social Democrats.

Part of the reason was the emergence of the liberal Bridge of Independent Lists (MOST) which managed to win 19 seats; the Croatia is Growing coalition lost 18 seats in this election. Even though MOST is really a classical liberal party in the manner of the FDP in Germany, it was able to take large numbers of more moderate SDP voters particularly given the fact that the left-wing Croatian Labourists had joined the Croatia is Growing coalition.

Such a decision caused two of the six Croatian Labourist MPs to defect to Sustainable Development of Croatia (ORaH) in protest. However, despite having elected an MEP last year and strong showings earlier in the campaign (I once believed ORaH would win 12 seats), ORaH sadly failed to win a single seat in the new Croatian parliament, managing 1.8% of the vote nationally. Croatia's electoral districts are all evenly distributed (each elects 14 MPs; there are also separate districts for overseas voters and minority groups in Croatia ) and each has a 5% threshold. ORaH did not manage to pass this threshold even in district I (the capital, Zagreb, in effect) which was clearly their best result. Minor parties outside those representing minority groups of Croatia (Serbs, Hungarians, Roma, Albanians, Czechs/Slovaks, and Italians) overall found this election to be a difficult one, with the final result showing only a total of 17 seats out of 151 not being represented by the Patriotic Coalition, Croatia is Growing, or MOST.

I believe from current conditions it is likely that a moderate, centrist SDP-MOST coalition will form, given that MOST's liberal stance will bring it strongly into conflict with the more hardline right-wing parties of the Patriotic Coalition. Due to the rather fragmented nature of Croatia's parliament, however, it will be by no means stable and it will almost certainly have to rely on the support of parties representing minority groups (who have 8 seats in total from this election; a Croatia is Growing-MOST coalition would not have quite enough seats for a majority).


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