Croatia: Minority Government, More Of The Same (?)

Map of Croatia With Election 2016 Results by majority seats per electorate Photo: Screenshot HRT news 12.09.2016

Map of Croatia
With Election 2016 Results
by majority seats per electorate
Photo: Screenshot HRT news 12.09.2016


The conservative Croatian Democratic Union, or HDZ, scored a relative victory in the early parliamentary vote on Sunday 11 September and now faces the task of forming a coalition government after voters again failed to produce a clear majority winner. Complete results reported Monday by Croatia’s state electoral commission showed that Andrej Plenkovic’s HDZ won 61 seats in the 151-member parliament, while Zoran Milanovic’s left-leaning Peoples’ Coalition won 54.  Bozo Petrov’s  Most party, or Bridge of Independent lists won 13 seats and it appears Most will again be a kingmaker as was the case in the last government. Zivi Zid, or Human Shield/Live Wall, a populist left alliance led by Ivan Vilibor Sincic, presented as the biggest surprise of these elections as it surged from 1 seat in last elections to 8 in these ones as it promised to be tough on banks and on the demand to seek prosecution of unnamed corrupt officials. General Zeljko Glasnovic, an independent who left HDZ just prior to elections, won a seat representing the diaspora and his strong card is that of lustration (getting rid of former communists in high positions in Yugoslavia from high position in democratic Croatia). Istrian Democratic Party and partners won 3 seats, Milan Bandic’s (current Mayor of Zagreb) Premier party won 2 seats and HDSSB (Croatian Democratic Alliance of Slavonia and Baranja) andHKS (Croatian Conservative Party) 1 seat.

Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ Headquarters on election night 11 September 2016 with president Andrej Plenkovic in centre Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ
Headquarters on election night
11 September 2016 with president
Andrej Plenkovic in centre
Photo: Connor Vlakancic


Various types of mainly lingering communist ethos in Croatia have rushed to form an orchestra chanting that the new, like the last government, will not last long; that the voters are disappointed and disenchanted. One assumes they could say no different given that their like-minded exit polls agencies had failed miserably when they predicted the centre-left headed by Zoran Milanovic would win an easy victory over the centre-right HDZ. One assumes the Social Democrat led opposition will not cease creating scandals in order to destabilise the new government.




Wrong exit polls, dashed the hopes of many who were “certain” the “Reds” will win a comfortable victory over the conservative lot all contributed to Zoran Milanovic’s announcement he will retire from leader of Social Democrats position after such bad election results for the party. Yes, Zoran Milanovic was quite involved and loud in toppling the previous HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko and consequently the government in June of this year. Zoran Milanovic’s SDP loss at the snap elections last Sunday could well be karma at play for his leadership was instrumental and loud in framing Karamarko to a corner where there was no alternative but to resign to save HDZ from ongoing scandals, that were often unfounded and concocted.  Although Milanovic managed to get elected into the parliament this time on basis of preferences his clout is bound to be weaker although his stubborn and often stupid communist rhetoric may persist. At least he won’t be joined in parliament by the former president of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic, whom SDP resurrected from retirement and placed on its electoral list of candidates. Not even preferential votes managed to get Mesic across the parliament’s threshold. All Mesic got was some miserable 5,000 votes. This though may not deter Mesic from playing a role in helping SDP maintain political divisiveness in Croatia, which surely seems as main culprit for the election results environment still deadlocked between two large parties without producing a clear preference or majority.



The turnout at elections on Sunday was 52.6% some 8% lower than in November 2015 although in the countries abroad, in the diaspora, the turnout was significantly higher in many polling stations, suggesting the diaspora is gradually becoming more alert in making sure people register to vote as required in advance. The lower voter turnout and the relatively high number of votes cast for relatively newly-established minor parties/or coalitions has been a recurring phenomenon in recent years and these elections provided no exception. This would suggest that either many Croatian voters are looking for an alternative to the two-party option or HDZ and SDP have both failed miserably at convincing a majority to vote for them. Whatever the reason for the rather thin spread of votes across parties that precludes a majority win, the outcome does present major challenges for the formation of a homogeneous government. Forming a government in this mix of electoral wins would suggest deals and compromises will need to be made and this, in turn, may mean a weakened capacity of government to deliver on needed reforms.


SDP president Zoran Milanovic announces resignation from leader of opposition Photo: Nova TV news 11.09.2016/Connor Vlakancic

SDP president Zoran Milanovic
announces resignation from leader of opposition
Photo: Nova TV news 11.09.2016/Connor Vlakancic

So, many types will say that the reality is that even though HDZ got 2 more seats than last November and SDP got 2 less, this won’t make much difference. Croatia is still going to get pretty much more of the same; the same bickering that led to the previous government’s downfall (?).



However, more of the same in Croatia’s circumstances may mean the economy has started moving and it will keep growing slightly but without a clear, confident and competent course for enhancing and securing that growth or meaningfully pegging back the budget deficit, foreign debts, unemployment… Perhaps I will be proven wrong and I hope I am – but it does take exceptional strength to hold the rudder straight and firm amidst such a intricate variety of political egos and gaggle of groups HDZ will need to work with in its new government.



But perhaps the new government will prove both the skeptics and its would-be gravediggers wrong! If firmness or resolve to lead is anything to go by then HDZ’s Andrej Plenkovic’s determination to be Croatia’s Prime Minister, as his party was the relative winner, may hold the key for a stable government in spite of its diverse make-up.  This was something that formerly Tomislav Karamarko did not pursue as firmly as Plenkovic is doiung right from the start; before the government is formed. Plenkovic is already setting the tone of a new government that will have a clear leadership and that is positive. It could well be that appointing a technocratic Prime Minister (Tihomir Oreskovic) who was not an elected party’s member was the element that rocked the previous government the most and contributed to its gradual instability.

Andrej Plenkovic President HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union grateful for election victory 11.09.2016 Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Andrej Plenkovic
President HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union
grateful for election victory 11.09.2016
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Having said that Plenkovic’s strength could well prove to be an asset for HDZ’s stabilising influence upon the new government, without a doubt, forming the new government will prove tricky and difficult for Andrej Plenkovic/HDZ. A prime minister needs a majority of like-minded members (at least on issues tabled for voting within the parliament) to govern. In the house of representatives almost 25% (or more if we count smaller parties such as HNS/Croatian Peoples’ Party who were in coalition with SDP, won some seats, etc., and may entertain the notion of entering into government with HDZ – God forbid) filled with smaller parties and single-seat independent, this is hard to do. Forming a government, and then keeping it together, depends on the co-operation of a flock of groups, often with diverging interests as well as reluctant collaborators. If a small party falls out with its coalition partners, it can bring down the government – similar was the case last time.


A political “risk” factor needs to be added to these structures of a minority government with HDZ as relative majority: Croatia continues to be a divided country.  Zoran Milanovic’s SDP and coalition partners have been very active in labeling HDZ as a criminally corrupt party that’s sinking into extreme nationalism, neo-fascism and reviving the WWII Ustashe regime while HDZ supporters have denounced Zoran Milanovic and his SDP as Communists bent on seizing power through resisting prosecution of and reckoning with communist crimes committed during former Yugoslavia as well as through incompetence to govern and uplift the country’s desperate state of the economy and slow-down the brain-drain with droves of young talented people leaving the country in search of jobs abroad. On the sidelines stand Most/Bridge of Independent lists and Live Wall, each reluctant to go into coalition with anyone but each lampooning on how their political agenda will save Croatia and nothing else, as well as the several ethnic minority seats that tend to serve cackling political cocktails and rub wrongly against the perceived Croatian national interests among the general population. The coming weeks will certainly prove challenging for Plenkovic and HDZ as they go about the business of forming a new government and I, for one, do not tend to judge that future government on the performance of the last one, particularly so because there will be a mix of personalities and skills in the new one that were not a contributing factor in the last one. So: good luck HDZ! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)



Being There As Croatia Votes

Sunday 11 September Zagreb Croatia Election day mood Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Sunday 11 September 2016
Zagreb Croatia
Election day mood
Photo: Connor Vlakancic


Guest Post

11 September 2016 – dateline!

Croatia: “Croatians vote for a new government – Again – The LIST goes ON”.
Croatian Sabor election – this time with courage by Connor Vlakancic – 2nd generation Croatian-American in Zagreb

A peculiar feeling to be a Croatian-American here in Zagreb this day of 11 September.

Yesterday was my birthday and I “investigated” Garden Pivovara in Zagreb as a potential another beer to import to Chicagoland HR diaspora. Only three months in production, GP sells in cans, not bottles…nice! We sampled all the products very carefully (LoL).


Today Zagreb dawned like any wonderful day a sunup run around Jarun lake and then get-down-to-business…Sabor election Day. “We shall see what happens”.

Zagreb Croatia 2016 Election day Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Zagreb Croatia
2016 Elections day
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

On my way to the main voting station in Zagreb, I walk through Cvijetni Trg. Normal day, street performers in custom singing and dancing. All normal except for a Zagreb election observer, with badge, getting a picture. In front of Kino Europa, kava flows and so does the every-day-typical gossip…normal.

Street performers Zagreb Croatia Elections day 2016 Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Street performers
Zagreb Croatia
Elections day 2016
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

However, a four minute walk, West, you arrive at 18 Varsavska Ulica. Here is Osnovna Skola elementary school. This is the main voting station in Zagreb (total is over 650 of them, mostly at schools). This one provides for Croatians from wherever is hometown but needed to be in Zagreb today. With their proof of registration voter ID card in hand, there were two very busy receptionists with computer access to voter records to direct the voter to a room (there were 11 rooms) that included the voters hometown. All the voters in all of the rooms got the same ballot. All the ballots were printed in Croatian only, In California the ballots are printed in nine different languages. Readers can decide what that difference signifies.

Vrsavska street school Zagreb Croatia Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Vrsavska street school
Zagreb Croatia
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

The voter folds their ballot and inserted into a box with a sealed lid. No computers involved, the ballots will be hand counted. Croatia, a nation of some 4.5 million people (not all who are eligible will vote [sadly] but still, that is a lot of paper-to-push.


Croatia 2016 general elections ballot paper Photo: Connor Vlakancic

2016 general elections ballot paper
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

The election workers awoke early and mostly on-station at 07:00 with the doors open at 08:00. Surprise, there were a lot of people waiting to vote. I inquired of them. Mostly they replied that they worked in a job at a cafe (or caffe) and so vote early first was their only option. I asked “considering the political situation in Croatia, economy and political animosity” why vote? The answer was always without hesitation: “I always vote, no matter anything else”.

Polling station Varsavska street school Zagreb Croatia 11 September 2016 Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Polling station
Varsavska street school
Zagreb Croatia
11 September 2016
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Walking to my car to retrieve my laptop to write to Croatish news good readers. A chance encounter.

With a small entourage of security staff, up walks President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. Like a regular sort of person, she bought flowers in Cvjetnik Trg. Despite her security staff, she was very approachable, I reminded her of our previous meetings in Croatian Embassy in Washington, D.C. of which she well remembered and I asked her election thoughts. She said: “We shall see what happens”.

President Kolinda Grabar-KItarovic votes/ 11 September2016 Photo: Ronald Gorsic/Cropix

President Kolinda Grabar-KItarovic
votes/ 11 September2016
Photo: Ronald Gorsic/Cropix

And so we shall. I will be attending the HDZ HQ to observe and report the election results as it is posted. Of course I will be discussing the US Presidential election, in term of voter turnout to be comparing to Croatian voter turnout, but certainly my vision of comparing a Sabor with a “bridge” over Croatia’s political chasm and my futuristic vision of a future US Congress of 200 Democrats and 200 Republicans with 35 Independent Representatives. Can the Sabor rise up to be the world-wide demonstration that this is a future that will resolve political rancor and deprivation. “We shall see what happens”.

Croatian Electoral Commission seal stamp on 2016 ballot boxes in Zagreb Croatia Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Croatian Electoral Commission
seal stamp on 2016 ballot boxes in
Zagreb Croatia
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Here in Croatia this can be a splendid day to remember and celebrate. However, as an emotional Croatian-American, my personal conflict on September 11th is considerable. Soon, in America, the sun will arise over New York and 9/11 Ground “Zero” will again be first and foremost in the minds of all America an all Americans. Even here on election day, voting is what democracy is where the rubber-meets-the-road, we who are American Expats will gather together to remember that democracy costs a very large price tag.

Connor Vlakancic Photo source: Zrinka Lusic/Voice of Croatia

Connor Vlakancic
Photo source: Zrinka Lusic/Voice of Croatia

Croatia: Looking To Turn Right At Elections


Dr. sc. Ante Nazor Photo source:

Dr. sc. Ante Nazor
Photo source:

Croatia votes today September 11 for its new government and one hopes that the majority of voters will, as they put pen to paper, behold the priceless value for Croatian independence, freedom from communist oppression and democracy the 1990’s Homeland War has and must always have.

The past many months have seen constant false accusations against Croatia that attempt to convince the world that there is revisionism and turning to WWII type of nationalism and WWII Ustasha politics. These allegations have been coming from all sides – domestic and foreign left-leaning press, especially. At times it has felt as if the resulting political divisions within Croatia were set-up to cause dangerous outbursts and violence in the streets (much like the racist ones presently going on for example in the US associated with the presidential race or in the UK associated with the Brexit vote). Furthermore, the resulting dangerous divisions in Croatia these false accusations of revived nationalism don’t even try to hide the left political field’s ugly media manipulation, the preferential employment of politically desirable persons in public administration, secret services special war, lies, historical falsifications, the ongoing attempts to attribute equal guilt to the aggressor and the victim for the 1990’s war where Serbs and Serbia were the aggressor.


The best result for Croatian immediate future would be if the centre-right or conservative political camps win government outright or with majority. This is undoubtedly so because the future government would have the ability and enough power to address the false allegations of revived nationalism against Croatia and hopefully “shut the gob” of its enemies and get on with the job of improving the economy and standards of living as well as democratic life of citizens.
The desperation of the Left – former communists- to win government, undoubtedly in order to pursue its vilification of Croatian Homeland war and the degradation of its veterans, is visible in the Social Democrats’ leader Zoran Milanovic saying last week that his grandfather was a Croatian ultra-nationalist Ustasha during WWII! Oh dear, does he really think Croatian voters are that naïve so as to warm up to the idea of voting “left” just because there may have been as Ustasha in a communist’s family tree? I don’t think Milanovic used this announcement regarding his grandfather for a good cause for Croatia – it was planted to further build on false allegations that in Croatia there is revival of WWII brand of nationalism.


In a recent interview Dr Ante Nazor, Head of the Croatian Memorial Document Archives of the Homeland War in Zagreb, addressed these issues and possible sources of false allegations against Croatia obviously designed to cause deep and violent divisions among the Croatian people. “As a scientist I do not divide people or their actions as being ‘left’ or ‘right’ politically oriented, but as those who follow scientific methodology and those who do not, and whether we are dealing here with the activities of ‘UDBA’ (communist Yugoslavia secret police) or “Kosovo-type” of structures or whether the motives for turning the public attention away from the economy to topics from history that are of a different nature, seem to me less important than the fact that these topics in the media are present in a most unscientific manner,” said Dr Nazor and continued: “Therefore, at a time when the media in Croatia is overwhelmed with warnings that Croatia may face a renewal of ‘nationalism’, which is often unjustly equated to chauvinism, and at this time when certain domestic and foreign public interest groups are trying to convince people that ‘fascismisation’ and ‘ustasheisation’ is at work in Croatia’s society, despite the fact that that no political party in Croatia whose program is based on Nazi or fascist ideology or racial laws would pass the required electoral threshold at elections, it’s interesting here to note Anne Applebaum’s observation (in the Fall and Rise of the Communists), published in late 1994, that ‘in Central Europe the greatest danger to democracy and stability does not come nor has it ever come from new or old nationalist right (…) but from the old left, the remains of communist parties that have remained better organised and financed than any new right-wing party might be.’ She notes that ‘the West should be interested in the Central European right and healthy nationalist movements, because they are defending tradition, order, order, law and family values,’ but these are often replaced by ‘patriotism – a natural occurrence there where there was effective occupation – with dangerous militarism, and that rational patriotism can now create a state of mind which is equally important, along with the respect of legality, for the development of democracy as are peaceful borders and parliamentary elections’. The readers may judge for themselves how this observation applies to the Croatian society of the 1990s to the present.”


It does not matter what we call this occurrence of false allegations against Croatia but it does matter that ever since the first parliamentary elections in 1990 in Croatia, which saw Croatia’s overwhelming will to secede fro communist Yugoslavia, the Croatian and international media space have been riddled continuously with incorrect or incomplete information, with lies and half-truths, in order to discredit Croatia’s Homeland War; in order to protect the legacy of communist Yugoslavia’s “brotherhood and unity” as something that should not have been torn apart and in order to justify Serbia’s brutal attacks and genocide against Croats who wanted freedom and democracy.
Part of these ‘activitists’ persistently seeks that the War be represented as a ‘civil war’, which is contrary to the facts,” said dr Nazor, “this was a war of conquest in order to achieve the overall objective of the Greater Serbia policy – ‘that all Serbs live in one state’, as the then Serbian leadership headed by Slobodan Milosevic tried to achieve merger with Serbia of substantial parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those who speak of ‘civil war’, not only avoid mentioning the responsibility of Serbia for war, but ignore the fact that the war was fought for the sake of merging parts of Croatian territory of Serbia, and not because of the change of government in Croatia…”


Dr Ante Nazor reminds us that the Homeland War is and should be the strongest foundation upon which Croatia’s future should be built. It was a war that was fought on Croatian sovereign territory by all those who stood against the Greater Serbia aggressor by defending their homes and Homeland; it was a war that was a Homeland War, a war of defense and a war of liberation, said Dr Nazor.

I trust Croatia’s voters will remember this as they vote today and in that reject the false allegations and divisions former communists are fueling every day. Good luck Croatia with the voting and if the left side wins it will mean much more work is required to right the wrongs. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: