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Croatia's ruling conservatives embrace far-right party in new government

Prime Minister incumbent Andrej Plenkovic celebrates after claiming victory in a parliamentary election in Zagreb, Croatia, Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Prime Minister incumbent Andrej Plenkovic celebrates after claiming victory in a parliamentary election in Zagreb, Croatia, Thursday, April 18, 2024. Copyright Darko Vojinovic/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Darko Vojinovic/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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The ruling HDZ party took a major decision on Wednesday to form a coalition with a far-right nationalist party, signalling a shift towards the right as the European elections approach next month.

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Croatia's ruling conservatives took a significant step Wednesday by forging a coalition with a far-right nationalist party, marking a hard turn rightward as the European elections approach next month.

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), in power since 2016, struck a deal with the far-right Homeland Movement following weeks of political uncertainty after an inconclusive parliamentary vote.

While the HDZ emerged as the most popular, they lacked a clear majority to rule solo.

Officials from the ruling party suggested that the new government, led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for a third term, could gain parliamentary approval as early as next week.

The Homeland Movement (Domovinski Pokret, or DP) is a relative newcomer to Croatian politics. It is primarily comprised of radical nationalists and social conservatives who previously split from the centre-right HDZ. 

Led by the mayor of Vukovar, a town heavily damaged during Croatia's 1991 war for independence from the former Yugoslavia, the party adopts a tough stance on polarising issues such as the right to abortion and same-sex unions.

Furthermore, Croatia's government is now excluding representation from a party advocating for minority Serbs, as the DP objected to their inclusion, sparking concerns about a potential spike in ethnic tensions in the Balkan country.

Since Croatia's independence, the HDZ has been the dominant force, mostly riding on the coattails of its wartime leader and the country's first president, Franjo Tuđman. 

In recent years, HDZ's rule has been marred by multiple accusations of corruption and mismanagement. 

Plenković is also running in the upcoming European elections. He tops his party's list for the European Parliament, sparking rumours of his desire to return to Brussels, where he served as an MEP between 2013 and 2016. 

The nation joined the EU in 2013 and entered Europe's passport-free travel zone and the eurozone last year.

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