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Croatia prepares to vote in snap election to break stalemate

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By Alasdair Sandford  with AP
Croatia prepares to vote in snap election to break stalemate

Croatia votes this weekend in an early general election – the second in less than a year as the EU’s newest country grapples with a political crisis that has revived divisions from the 1990s Balkan wars.

Neither the right-wing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), here campaigning in Pula, nor the People’s Coalition, led by the Social Democrats (SDP) have been able to rule on their own

“The HDZ as the biggest and the strongest Croatian party is into the business of uniting rather the dividing Croatian society. I want European values and European priorities to be every day on the agenda of the future government, on the agenda of future Croatian parliament,” said HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic, campaigning in the Istrian town of Pula.

Croatia’s previous centre-right coalition government collapsed amid in-fighting and a conflict of interest scandal concerning the HDZ’s president. Since then Plenkovic has tried to present itself as more moderate, but there has been little to inspire the public mood.

“I think it could be summarised in three words: One is disappointment, the other is distrust and the third is apathy. Disappointment in the former government which was led by the HDZ, Croatian Democratic Union, also because it was in coalition with the Bridge (Most),” said writer and analyst Slavenka Drakulic.

The Bridge – a little-known pro-reform group – helped prop up the government but its collapse in June prompted MPs to dissolve parliament, paving the way for the snap elections.

Opinion polls predict another stalemate this time round.

The crisis has fuelled fears that instability could hamper Croatia’s efforts to implement economic reforms to catch up with other EU countries.