Croatia In A Pickle To Form New Government



Around 61.12 percent of 3.8 million eligible voters cast their ballots in Sunday 8 November general election in Croatia.
As I thought in one of my recent articles, neither of the two “big” political camps in Croatia (which divide Croatia into communist nostalgics/centre-left and independent Croatia loving cenre-right) won enough parliamentary seats to form a government outright- in the 151 seat parliament 76 are needed to form a majority government. In fact, the difference in results is almost insignificant leaving Croatia politically and ideologically divided (between centre-left and centre-right) to the point where economic progress and optimal politico-moral harmony are becoming more and more a feat impossible to achieve in one lifetime, at least.

Leader of Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ Tomislav Karamarko raises a glass to relative victory at 2015 general elections in Croatia Victory not enough to form government Photo: AFP

Leader of Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ
Tomislav Karamarko
raises a glass to relative victory at
2015 general elections in Croatia
Victory not enough to form government
Photo: AFP

The conservative Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ led coalition won 56 seats from within Croatia plus 3 allocated for the diaspora or voters living abroad (59 total) and the centre-left Social Democrats/SDP led coalition won 56 seats, but if one pinned the natural alliance to them from the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), that won 3 seats just like the diaspora, then these two camps are equal even if HDZ is the relative winner. They are equally unable to form a government outright. They are equal in their desire to form an alliance with a group of independents that campaigned under the name “Bridge” (Most), which, by the way, based their election campaign on asserting they were “neither HDZ nor Social Democrats”, campaigned against the inefficient Social Democrat government…and achieved an amazing 19 seats in parliament evidently on the strength of asserting they were something entirely different to the two main political parties and that they would not be entering into a coalition with either! Many a prominent or formerly prominent political figures fell off the political race wagon – most embarrassingly for their results were pathetically against them. Some of these losers are the former President of Croatia Ivo Josipovic, the former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, the former finance minister Slavko Linic, the former Environment minister Mirela Holy…


Leaders of political parties, journalists, political analysts… in Croatia look baffled, seem surprised, taken aback in a shock, shaking their heads in confusion – saying no one predicted such an election outcome and no one predicted the “Bridge” group could rise to such an important place as to be in the position that could be deciding who will govern Croatia and who won’t for the coming four years. It is clear to me that these people are not used to the situation where, after elections, forming government is not straightforward but requires minority government picking up various choices and combinations of governing models that could lead to forming a government.


Leader of Social Democrats/SDP and former Premier Zoran Milanovic Still in the running to form government although record of last mandate appalling Photo: Ivica Galovic/ PIXSELL

Leader of Social Democrats/SDP and former Premier
Zoran Milanovic
Still in the running to form government
although record of last mandate appalling
Photo: Ivica Galovic/ PIXSELL

It’s clear to me that the two main political camps have equally been miserably ineffective in wooing the electorates to vote for their programs and plans for changes and reforms. So, electorate had gone in significant numbers to the option that said loudly enough “we are not like any of them!”(Meaning HDZ or SDP).
This easily points to the democratically positive fact that the Croatian electorate is gaining in confidence and ability or strength to decide for itself and that candidates in future elections will need to work much harder to deserve and earn votes from people. “Bridge’s” electoral success seems to indicate that many Croatians are disenchanted with the traditional political parties, which have failed to address the country’s deep-rooted economic problems. And so the general elections results in effect mean that Zoran Milanovic’s Social Democrats government had lost but Tomislav Karamarko’s Croatian Democtratic Union did not quite win!

Be that as it may, Croatia today truly stands in a political pickle: both major political parties/coalitions have won enough seats to potentially form government with the third, new group – Bridge, or the two major political parties could form alliance between themselves only and form a government – plucking feathers off the threat to their power base that “Bridge’s” success at the polls poses; it has for a long time been said that Croatia needs a Third political option (besides the traditional big-players HDZ and SDP) and “Bridge’s” success appears to be the first ever “Third Option” that has hit the ground confidently running to the parliament and having a significant say in government.


Left: Drago Prgomet Right: Bozo Petrov two leaders of "Bridge" (Most) group of independents that won enough parliamentary seats to influence the formation of government in Croatia Photo: Robert Anic/Pixsell

Left: Drago Prgomet Right: Bozo Petrov
two leaders of “Bridge” (Most)
group of independents that
won enough parliamentary seats to influence the
formation of government in Croatia
Photo: Robert Anic/Pixsell

The problem with the “Bridge” group/coalition is that it’s not a homogenous group when it comes to a political ideology or even a set of programs to be had to improve Croatia’s economic and national unity fortunes. Mostly, the group is made up of several quite strong personalities (some relatively unknown and untested in national public service) and sound individuals who have been successful at their respective local scenes or local governments that often carry agendas not necessarily applicable to national issues. Furthermore, Drago Prgomet, one of the leading politicians in the “Bridge” group had relatively recently left HDZ, where he was a deputy leader under circumstances seemingly less than peaceful.

The question that leaps at one at this stage is: What criteria will the “Bridge” use in deciding which side it will join to help form a government if it comes to that: the centre-right/HDZ or the centre-left/SDP? They said in their campaign they’re neither and won their parliamentary seats on that account for sure; there are those among them who equally hate HDZ and SDP or like one more than the other but have declared they like neither…complicated!

Both the leader of HDZ, Tomislav Karamarko and the leader of SDP – Zoran Milanovic, have stated readiness to conduct talks with the “Bridge” in order to form a government. Another leading “Bridge” figure Bozo Petrov said on Monday 9 November it was ready for discussions. On the other hand, who knows, HDZ and SDP, the staunch political enemies, may end up putting their irons in the same fire and form a government – wouldn’t that be a shocker! The whole nation would need to go on Valium or some such sedative drug to carry it through to the next elections! It does strike one that to give “Bridge” room to swing its cats also means risking losing much of the power-base owned by each of the big players: HDZ and SDP! One wonders whether the Croatian winners at these elections are capable of leaving their egos outside the door before entering the meeting room where negotiations regarding forming government are to be held. Or, or – no government formed and new elections set, say for January or February 2016! (?)
Although members of the “Bridge” group have said in recent months that they would not be promoting personality cults I have yet to see a single member state in public that the “Bridge” would go back to its electorate and talk to their constituents, to people who voted for them, and seek their direction as with whom they should form alliances towards forming the government: HDZ or SDP! It’s shaping up to be a political mud-slinging fight loaded with individual and suddenly inflated egos so that any outcome is possible, unless of course, the coming days show some cementing of unity within the group for the program ahead to make Croatia firmly directed at economic recovery in particular.

President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic addresses the nation after the results of 2015 parliamentary elections announced Photo:

President of Croatia
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
addresses the nation after the
results of 2015 parliamentary elections announced

Croatian president Kolinda Grabar Kitarović commented on the general election results with positive overtones and trust in the power of negotiations and consultations. “The results of the elections show that Croatia is a mature democracy. I want to congratulate everyone who entered the Parliament, as well as Patriotic Coalition (HDZ-led coalition), which is a relative winner of the election. I invite all those who are elected to Parliament to demonstrate their responsibility to the citizens who elected them and to put party interests aside. Together, we must continue to lead Croatia out of the crisis. In accordance with constitutional powers, I will act responsibly and I believe that we will, after consultation with the parties, soon have the new prime minister-designate”, the president said. Indeed, the coming week will show how mature Croatia’s democracy is at this time and whether personal emotions and views of politicians needing to consult will, to the country’s detriment, win against the absolute and cold-faced need to set up a responsible and effective government that is very different to the one Social Democrats and Zoran Milanovic have led in past four years.
Currently the most pressing problems in Croatia are:
• unemployment is at 15.4% – the third-highest in the European Union, after Greece and Spain
• youth unemployment is at 43.1% – also the third-highest in the EU
• the country has suffered six years of recession, although has seen little growth this year
• over 360,000 refugees and illegal migrants have passed through Croatia since beginning of September/late August this year and thousands are being housed in temporary winter reception centres en route to Western Europe, causing concerns on all sides.
Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. No easy solution here. It will take a lot of patience,
    bargaining and concessions all round to reach some sort of
    Good Luck, Croatia!

    Best to You, Dear Ina


  2. An awkward situation but just possibly a working one.If HDZ takes the lead as Government and creates new policies then Bridge can vote with those it thinks right for the people and carry them forward but can vote against any it thinks impractical and against the best interest of the people. That is if Bridge are all of one mind as a party.
    At least it looks as though the Communist hold is slackening and that can only be to the good.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Yes, regretfully slackening mildly, David, but the unthinkable in that tone could happen: Bridge goes with the commies and those they campaigned against. I’m holding my breath for a good outcome if not even new elections would be better than that scenario

  3. Reblogged this on Eyes of the Mind and commented:
    Minority government = hamstrung government. What will this mean for Croatia?

    • Thank you for the reblog, Mishka – nail-biting stuff that could throw all the good work to get rid of communist remnants right back in the water…

  4. Sorry, I did mean HDZ.

  5. It will take at least another two generations to lose the yolk of 60 years of communist rule. Good luck Croatia. Good luck EU!

  6. Stevie10703 says:

    Two issues here:
    1. Most….no one really knows who they are and from what I heard from friends in Croatia is that people who would normally vote for HDZ in an election voted Most as a protest vote and while I am sure SDP voters could have voted for them as a protest vote, the majority came from HDZ voters as much of the Most people were people who left HDZ. Now from what I understand, Bozo Petrov was voted in as Mayor of Metkovic and he made a lot of positive changes there and he is young and charismatic and seemed to be the face of the Party.

    But, here comes the problem it seemed that these guys were a protest vote against HDZ but, in the end, it sounds like their political leanings could be closer to SDP and if that is the case, they duped the people pretty good.

    2. HDZ…can there be a less charismatic leader of a party than Karamarko? The guy is no different than Milanovic in that regard. He comes off as a wet suit with zero people skills and his background isn’t that good either. I believe if they had a better person leading the party than Karamarko all those 19 seats that Most took would have been for HDZ which would have given them 75 of the 151 seats and I am sure that they could have gotten one or two more seats giving them an outright majority in the Sabor. But, that didn’t happen…also, IMO the campaign manager went into cruise control in the summer when polling suggested that HDZ was going to run away with the election.

    Considering the disaster that the Yugo Socialist Party (SDP) was to Croatia, HDZ should have won this election in a landslide and yet it didn’t. They need to look at their party and find out what went wrong and IMO, what went wrong was picking the wrong person to lead that party.

    • Self-searching and changing several of “head”figures”in the race would have yielded a better result in elections, I think, Stevie – situation is very concerning and new elections seem at this stage a much better prospect

  7. Ante Saric says:

    The overwhelming majority of Croats rejected Milanovic & Co. That is obvious even to the blind. I did say that HDZ had to be more assertive when it came to reform. The rise of MOST proved it.
    HDZ does have a economic plan and MOST will be aggressive in reducing the size of the state and the bureaucracy. They should strike a deal. It will good for the country.
    There is nothing to be gained by teaming with the Reds. In a normal country they would have been lucky to get 20 seats. Unfortunately the UDBA dominated media brainwashed a sizeable portion of the population who clearly went off the deep end by voting for Milanovic.

    • I totally agree, Ante, that nothing is gained by teaming up with the Reds; HDZ’s economic plan is sound but Most/Bridge seems it needs quite a bit of political glue to get it together and see that and some individuals from it to shed their hateful bias

  8. Michael Silovic says:

    Croatia is at a cross roads with this election. In one way it is good that Bridge will decide the powers that be in Croatia. I do not see HDZ/SDP forming a unity government. This sends to the 2 major parties a signal that business will not be as usual and people want change as the status can not continue in either party SDP/HDZ. I think that the voters really understood what they were doing by sending this message.Negotiations with Bridge should be intense and they should not allow the status Quo to put pressure on them to abandon their agenda after all they did win it with public support. Reading some of peoples comments about MOST in many commentaries it is clear that many have no clue what MOST stands for or what their platform really is that they ran on. The 8 points of their platform that I read is really nothing that far out there. 2 of their points that I agree 100 % with is on agriculture and Financial conversions to Kunas which I am all for. Their 3rd demand that has to do with education and business which is something that really is in the best interest of the younger generation to move Croatia forward and keep our younger people at home. From my reading they are more in line with HDZ then SDP policies. Many HDZ supporters should not be complaining that we did not take total control on election day. A few weeks ago I mentioned that Karamarko did not have his heart in this election. It was as if he thought HDZ just had the air of rights to this election. He could have done a lot more for the party. The real test comes in the next 2 weeks to see who will work together for the future of croatia or who will allow ego to create a more tense situation.In the end if Karamarko leaves his EGO at the door I think we will see a good coalition working together in unison for progress. Croatia is at this time in a difficult situation with the immigrant problem coming through the country and bickering between parties will cause some serious damage to our country if we do not have strong leadership and soon. I personally would like to see the younger generation take charge so that we can clean house from the communist remnants of old. The younger generation are probably more nationalist then a lot of the old guard and will do fine in defending our homeland.

    • Most/Bridge Michael does have its good points but also some not so good and it seems “fame”has gone to the head of some and one wonders whether they’d be able to shed it and negotiate a new government realistically rather than euphorically for if it came to new elections, if deal cannot be made that’s livable with Most would probably not get the same chance again (?) – not enough background campaigning and public education has been had to provide conditions for a more versatile election result…Most’s success came out of protest rather than profound thinking in most cases, I think and that kind of voter support is usually short-lived

      • Michael Silovic says:

        I agree with what you are saying. But lets not forget that all parties egos are a problem starting with HDZ, If the ego was not there we would have won more seats but there was an air of arrogance in we will win because we are HDZ. There was not enough effort to reach out to the people on their part with real change and substance. I still believe that this shake up is what was needed. We will wait and see how it plays out in the days to come. All I know is that croatia is in a dangerous era with immigration coming through and with ISIS gaining foot hold in BIH. We need to have strong leadership in this issue along with our own social issues.I personally believe that MOST will side with HDZ but I could be surprised depending on who is really willing to put Croatia First. From the position on MOST I am in favor of their stance on agriculture, something should have been done in that field long ago which I have mentioned time and time again that no country can survive with out strong agriculture. As to their position of monetary issue of loans being converted to KUNAS I am all for that. I have always been against converting to the Euro. Their policy of energy independence is something that will benefit croatia in the long run even though I do not agree with drilling in the Adriatic at this time when we can be drilling for oil in Slavonia where the threat of environmental damage would be minimal.Their position on education and business is noble and geared more to the younger generation which I think is positive. I fully support their idea of postal and electronic voting.The issue of national security is one that I do not so much agree with since I am a far right nationalist and have always demanded that no one other then Croats be allowed to occupy our land unless it benefits our own people. I still believe we need to fight to achieve a greater croatia to the point of our original lands. Having said that I do not see any party taking a tough stance individually on this issue other then HDZ being a bit more to the right. I think in the end we will put aside egos of all parties and do what is right but we will see. I hope to see a transparent goverment in any case regardless of the out come. I prefer not to shoot anyone down so quickly as we might all be surprised how well things turn out. WE have had 2 parties already in control and both really did not do so good so maybe this time things will turn out better. As to Milanovic being gone for good. I think if he does not get what he wants he will go hide for a while and fade away. That would be in the best interest of his party and even for himself as he was such a disaster.

      • Oh agree with you Michael on arrogance and egoes and I do think Most has good ideas but their latest suggestion that everybody governs with them: HDZ, SDP and Most as some sort of national unity government with Most deciding who the Prime Minister should be is a bit too rich for my taste and indicative of their arrogance really, very irresponsible indeed as it surely won’t lead to forming government…next few days I think are going to be most interesting

  9. Michael Silovic says:

    I do not think of it as a pickle but as a hiccup. If Egos are put aside then think we will have a goverment a lot sooner then we think with out the bickering. Not sure why anyone in HDZ would be overly concerned at this stage and if they are regardless of the outcome no one is to blame for it but Karamarko. Weeks ago I mentioned he was lacking in his duties to bring the party into power on election day.He was acting as if it was HDZ right to take over automatically without really working for it and getting the message out there and so this is the results. A lot of people do not even understand the platform of Bridge. There are many things to like in it that are workable within both parties if egos are put aside. They really did in their platform put Croatia and the people First. It is a moderate nationalist agenda and not as far right as I would like but I think once the climate is settled we will go to the right a bit further and harder because of the danger our country is in at this time with immigration. The people of croatia that voted are fed up and want to put Croatia First and are tired of the promises and games being played on them. I think this election is a wake up call for both major parties to get their act together. In either event I am glad to know that Milanovic is on his way out.

    • I’m, still keeping my fingers crossed that Milanovic does go out – for good, Michael. That way he’d pull out with him a whole lot of rubbish that poisons Croatian society

    • Michael when has any politician put aside his ego for the good of Croatia? Sadly, it is the land of the absurd when it comes to elections, where there are something like 150 registered political parties for a country with a population smaller than New York City. Ludo!!!

  10. What apickle indeed. I hope the negotiations will come up with a good compromise. You have so many challenges ahead and after everything you’ve been through as a nation you so deserve stability and prosperity.
    My friend who volunteered with the refugees had nothing but great things to say about the way Croatia is handling the burden by the way. Thanks for keeping us so well informed!

  11. Ina, I’ve read some disturbing things about MOST in terms of their platform, for example their disdain for patriotism, the struggles of war veterans, and the diaspora. Perhaps the stuff I have read is false, I don’t know.
    What I do know is that a government who has little regard for its veterans has even less regard for the rest of its citizens. Politicians during elections can promise the moon and the stars but it means very little when they are actually in power.
    Today is Remembrance Day in many countries around the world, a chance to honour the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in many wars including WW1 and 2, the Korean war, etc…
    How do Croatian citizens and her government honour its war heroes? Spitting on them as they camp out and peacefully demonstrate for more than a year in Zagreb —send police into St. Mark’s Church to haul out handicapped vets.— haul them off to war crimes tribunals — disregard the more than 2,300 war heroes, an astronomical amount compared to the population size, who have taken their own lives in despair because they did not suffer for the Reds to be back in power….
    Very shortly, we will commemorate the devastation of Vukovar and Skabrnja, two Croatian towns devastated by Serbian aggression in the early 1990s, a place where today many who caused the aggression live and work freely.
    Today we have Serb ‘minorities’ and Yugo-philes who supported the aggression on Croatia sitting in the government.
    Any government that does not address these pressing issues will not address the devastating economic ones.
    Thank you.
    Enjoy this very good article by Hitrec:

    • You are so very right, Veronika and issues regarding lack of regard for veterans in particular are a cancer wound capable of destroying everything people died for. Most/Bridge is a mixed bag of views and capacities and if it doesn’t shape up quick it could blow up in our faces. The “fame”seems to have gone to the heads of several members there and this is painful to watch as I can see skills there are scarce.

  12. Hello! I have nominated you for a blog award at
    Thank you!

  13. Karamarko blew it. He should resign. They need a complete reorg, and new generation of leaders and ideas. As for Milanovic and Pusic can they just go away…their stale, backward, messed up ideas and incompetence is not needed. Croatia has tired leaders with no vision for Croatia, they only have self interest.

  14. Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    Wow, nothing is ever easy in Croatia. It appears to me that Croatia needs strong democratic leaders who will work together and carry out the will of the people. What if that never happens? Or if it doesn’t in the next four years? I am somewhat stunned by this news. Hugs, Barbara

  15. Good luck Croatia as you search for the best way forward in democracy. The search to get the best people to take the country forward is a marathon not a sprint. There will be right choices at times; wrong choices; and many surprises. All this is the learning experience in democracy and each step, right or wrong is necessary for ultimate victory for Croatia.Best wishes.

  16. Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

  17. Ina, so much is happening in Croatia. Prgomet kicked out of MOST after secret meeting with the Commi SDPs. The demonstrating veterans have had the power turned off on Savska. Did you see Ivo Banac on Bujica last night. Excellent show! We need to see more from your ‘pen.’ Pozdrav. :+)

  18. My goodness I found you again my friend. Yes even this too will pass! New site name… Follow and I will follow you! Yaaaah

  19. Stevie10703 says:

    So now they are saying that Prgomet and 10 others from MOST have left the party and that they will go over to the SDP side. The talk is that those 10, plus 3 from the Serb party and the 3 from IDS will give Milanovic and his bunch 75 seats in the sabor. If this is true, then Croatia needs an election overhaul because this is a complete joke. This is getting crazier by the minute.

  20. Posted it here Ina great post as always Croatia In A Pickle To Form New Government | Ace News Room


  1. […] new government as it won 19 seats on 8 November and neither of the two big parties with coalitions won enough to form government, said last Wednesday 11 November 2015 Bridge/ MOST wanted a government of national unity that […]

  2. […] new government as it won 19 seats on 8 November and neither of the two big parties with coalitions won enough to form government, said last Wednesday 11 November 2015 Bridge/ MOST wanted a government of national unity that […]

  3. […] new government as it won 19 seats on 8 November and neither of the two big parties with coalitions won enough to form government, said last Wednesday 11 November 2015 Bridge/ MOST wanted a government of national unity that […]

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