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Croatian Elections 2020: Analysts say new gov’t to be formed soon, be stable

Andrej Plenkovic (Photo: HINA/ Damir SENCAR/ ds)

ZAGREB, July 6 (Hina) – Political analysts Davor Gjenero, Vjekoslav Raos and Nikola Baketa said on Sunday, after preliminary election results were released, that the new government could be formed soon considering the convincing victory of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

“Plenkovic has evidently won a mandate to form the government without coalition partners, in cooperation with minority representatives only. We have not had such a situation since 2003 and under the current election law, Plenkovic has won the best result for the HDZ in its history,” said Gjenero.

Raos said the HDZ’s unexpectedly convincing victory showed that Plenkovic’s tactic with calling early elections before a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic and the economic repercussions of the lockdown had proved to be the right one.

Baketa also noted that the turnout of less than 50% played into Plenkovic’s hands.

The analysts believe that the government will be formed relatively quickly, with Baketa saying that 66 seats is a comfortable negotiating position should there be a need for talks on a coalition.

“It would be very good for Croatia to have a stable parliamentary majority because of the difficult situation that is to follow. It would be good if the HDZ could also secure additional support, not necessarily by offering participation in the government, but through programme cooperation with some parties,” Baketa believes.

Gjenero believes that SDP leader Davor Bernardic should step down, while Raos believes that the poor result of the RESTART coalition is due to a bad order of candidates on slates as well as television debates, which have additionally discouraged centre-left voters from supporting RESTART.

Baketa believes that the second biggest election loser is the Homeland Movement, which had expected 20-30 parliamentary seats and a strong role in the government.

Gjenero said he believed that the Homeland Movement was a party financed with Russian money.

Raos believes that Croatia has leaned to the right due to the 16 seats won by the Homeland Movement as well as that it has accepted the status quo by giving strong support to the HDZ.

The analysts said that the green-left coalition We Can! had scored a very good election result, with Gjenero noting that that group of civil society professionals had used their skills in the campaign in a very good way.

Baketa believes the We Can! coalition used the political stage it had in the Zagreb City Assembly to present itself to voters as a new camp and that it has won over not only voters of RESTART or the SDP but also a lot of undecided voters and people who did not previously take part in elections.

Gjenero said that Bridge, which had expected fewer seats than it won, had decided to become a clericalist party, a platform supported by a certain number of voters and infrastructure provided by civil society activist Zeljka Markic.

As for the significant difference between election results and party approval ratings, Baketa said that opinion polls did not serve to predict the election outcome but give an insight into the situation at the time when they are conducted.

Raos said that this was also due to a low turnout as well as the fact that polls insufficiently cover voters right of the centre, that most polls are conducted nation-wide while only a few were conducted at the level of constituencies.

Also problematic is the fact that a relatively small number of polls were conducted since January, around 20 by three agencies, he said.

“Parties that can afford internal polls conduct them. The HDZ claimed that internal polls showed a much better result for the party and it seems they were right,” said Raos.

Djenero believes that HDZ supporters are very reluctant to talk about their political preferences, hence the difference between the actual election result and the polls. 

“Our analysts do not make election forecasts but rather only present the results of opinion polls. A forecast of the election outcome requires much more than that,” he said.

According to election results released by the State Electoral Commission after ballots have been counted at 99% of polling stations, HDZ won in eight constituencies, while the SDP-led RESTART coalition won in two constituencies.

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has won the most votes in the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth constituencies, while RESTART, led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has won in the third and eighth constituencies.

The HDZ has also won all three seats intended for the Croatian expatriate community, whose members vote in Constituency No. 11.

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