ZAGREB, July 5 (Hina) – The centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic took an early lead in Croatia’s parliamentary election on Sunday, with the centre-left Restart coalition headed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) coming in second, exit polls showed after the closure of polling stations at 7 p.m.
The right-wing Homeland Movement of folk singer Miroslav Skoro won 16 seats, the conservative Bridge party and the left-green coalition led by the We Can! party captured eight seats each.
The liberal-centrist coalition of the Party with a First and Last Name, Pametno and Fokus won three seats.
No other party passed the 5 percent threshold to enter the 151-seat parliament. The HDZ won 61 seats in the 151-seat parliament and Restart 44.
Sandra Bencic of the green-left coalition led by the We Can! political platform said on Sunday that they had not expected to win eight seats in parliament as forecast by exit polls.
“We certainly didn’t expect this,” Bencic said in an initial comment after the announcement of the results of exit polls.
She thanked all the people who went to the polls, especially those who recognised them as a serious political force seeking to bring change.
“These are exit polls, let’s wait for the official results at about 11 p.m. to see how many seats we have actually won. In any case, what we can tell the citizens is that parliament will not be the same after this,” Bencic told the Nova TV commercial television channel.
The green-left coalition, which ran in parliamentary elections for the first time, comprises We Can!, the New Left, the Workers’ Front, ORaH (Sustainable Development of Croatia), Zagreb Is Ours and for the City.
I’m not surprised by HDZ’s result. At the start of the campaign, we said that our objective was to repeat the result of four years ago. However, according to these exit polls, our result is going to be even better when we take into account the votes from Constituency 11,” Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ) deputy leader Branko Bacic told N1 television, referring to the votes from the electoral unit designed for the diaspora.
He added that Croatian citizens have recognised the work of the government led by Andrej Plenkovic and the HDZ in the many crises that had occurred over the past four years.
Asked who the Bridge party (8 seats) and Homeland Movement (16) took the votes from, Bacic said that if by the end of the evening the exit poll proves to be correct then the HDZ has retained its voters and in fact gained even more trust from citizens.
Nino Raspudic, an independent candidate who headed the Bridge party’s list in the second constituency, said on Sunday he was pleased with the exit poll results, claiming that Croatia had definitely woken up.
“Croatia has definitely woken up. We represent a new and young Croatia. This is a very good result if it stays so, notably in the second constituency where we are close to a second seat,” Raspudic said after exit polls gave the Bridge party eight seats in parliament.
Asked about a post-election coalition, he said they had all the time in the world and that they would certainly not compromise the values and policies they had clearly stated nor agree to “rotten compromises” which would betray the ideals they stood for.
“We’re not interested in naked power. We’re interested in the realisation of the value policies we stand for,” Raspudic said, adding that no one in Bridge would switch sides.
His wife Marija Selak Raspudic, who was the first candidate on Bridge’s list in the first constituency, said switching sides was furthest from their minds.
The condition for any post-election coalition, aside from Bridge’s platform, is amending the election law, she said.