Croatians prepare for early election amid political turmoil

FILE - Croatia's President Zoran Milanovic at the Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Germany, on Sept. 11, 2020.
FILE - Croatia's President Zoran Milanovic at the Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Germany, on Sept. 11, 2020. Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Euronews
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A vote on 17 April will be the first step of Croatia's “super election year,” involving European elections in June and the presidential vote in December.


Croatians are preparing to go to the polls next weekend for an early election vote that will decide whether they want the country to remain a pro-Ukraine and pro-West nation or put in office the centre-left party of President Zoran Milanović, known for his ties with Russia. 

The two main rivals in the 17 April election will be the governing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). These elections could reflect on the results of the European Parliament elections in June and the presidential election, scheduled for December. 

Croatia's parliament was dissolved in March, paving the way for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The decision came as Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the HDZ party faced accusations of corruption by the opposition. The latest scandal involves the appointment of a close ally of the HDZ, Ivan Turudić, to the role of prosecutor general. Opponents expressed concern that it was a way for the government to protect itself. 

Croatia's President Milanović has called to "kick out thieves and abusers from power, and to prevent their return to power for a long time." 

Prime minister Plenković, who has been in government since 2016, has denied the corruption claims and said his party is ready to continue in office.

“Croatian Democratic Party is ready for yet another term and trust of Croatian citizens," Plenković said. "May the party always be one step ahead of other political options in all political challenges, and may it lead Croatian people to a better future."

According to a recent Ipsos poll, HDZ has 27.3 percent of support among Croatians, while the SDP has 22.6 percent. 

Milanović, who has been highly disputed over his critical stance toward the EU and support for Ukraine, will not be running as a lead candidate for prime minister for the SPD. The Constitutional Court ruled in March that he cannot be a candidate in the parliamentary elections while he remains president. 

The role of the president remains largely ceremonial in Croatia, despite it's right to propose amendments to the constitution and call for extraordinary sessions in parliament.

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