Croatia’s 2019 Political Forecast

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For political leaders and voters, 2019 will be an exciting year. First up are the elections for the European Parliament in May, followed by presidential elections next winter, which will themselves be just a warm-up for parliamentary elections no later than 2020. Here is the 2019 political forecast for some of the most prominent politicians, reports Jutarnji List on January 1, 2019.

Former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović (SDP) is expected to announce whether we will run for president against his erstwhile opponent, current President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. On the other hand, we will see whether her political turnaround toward the political centre will succeed, bringing her closer to the current HDZ leadership. This year we will also find out whether Dalija Orešković, the former chairwoman of the Conflict of Interest Prevention Commission, is a new political star, as well as how the turmoil in SDP will end. Events in HDZ also promise to be interesting, with party leader Andrej Plenković’s expected attempt to get rid of remaining party opponents, including deputy party president Milijan Brkić.

Milan Bandić, mayor of Zagreb
The mayor of Zagreb is in good political form, with his parliamentary group expanding with new MPs almost weekly. There are rumours that it is only a matter of time when Bandić will knock on Plenković’s door and demand a government’s reconstruction, with his representatives becoming ministers. Apart from Plenković, Bandić must keep watch over the State Attorney’s Office and courts. Just one guilty verdict could be enough to end the career of the most enduring Croatian politician. Therefore, 2019 might be a challenging year for Bandić.

Tomislav Karamarko, former HDZ president
The former HDZ chief and the most powerful politician in the country three years ago is reportedly thinking about returning to politics, but the main barrier is his successor Plenković. Another danger is the so-called “fake text messages scandal.” The only good opportunity for Karamanko’s political return this year are European elections in May, and only if he succeeds in restoring the right-wing alliance with his former culture minister Zlatko Hasanbegović.

Davor Bernardić, SDP president
The SDP president is facing numerous dangers, and 2019 will be a decisive year for him. The critical moment will be the European elections in spring. If his battered political party is defeated as expected, his remaining allies in the SDP leadership will turn against him.

Damir Krstičević, defence minister
For the ambitious minister of defence, the key political event will take place immediately at the beginning of the year. Possible failure of the project to buy Israeli fighter jets is a significant danger for Krstičević. Failure could easily cost him a seat in the cabinet. To make matters worse, it seems that the fate of this military “deal of the century” is no longer in his hands. The help can only come from Washington.

Andrej Plenković, the prime minister
In the first two years of the prime minister’s term, he survived a break with MOST and the potentially deadly implosion of Agrokor. He also dealt with intra-party opponents, but the primary battle is still ahead of him. His expected duel with Milijan Brkić is an opportunity for a decisive victory over the right wing of his party. Excellent prospects for further strengthening of his position are also offered by the European elections, which HDZ is expected to win easily. A stray bullet from the Agrokor affair or possibly some skeletons from the closet are the greatest dangers for Plenković in 2019.

Dalija Orešković, former chairwoman of the Conflict of Interest Prevention Commission
The former president of the Conflict of Interest Prevention Commission has announced the establishment of a new political party. The key event for her is the spring European elections where she is expected to run with her candidate list. If she manages to achieve a good result, an even better opportunity to break into the very top ranks will be available later in the year – presidential elections. How successful she will be depends a lot on the people she will surround herself with.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, president
The current president has made her new year’s resolution earlier than usual. She has decided to clean up her office before Christmas and enter the new year with new advisors. To win the second term in office, she should get closer to the prime minister and HDZ, and distance herself from the far-right. On her way to the second presidential term, the most significant obstacles are her former friends from the right, but also her old colleague from the time they used to work together in diplomacy – Zoran Milanović.

Zoran Milanović, former prime minister and former SDP president
The leadership crisis in the SDP has increased the chances of Milanović’s return to politics. Numerous SDP members have already expressed their wish to see the former prime minister run for president. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is shaken, and if she cannot recover quickly, this could be a chance Milanović would not want to miss. His potential candidacy is at the same time his greatest possible risk because in the case of a defeat he would definitely be remembered as a major political loser. His final decision on whether to run depends on whether the entire SDP and other left-liberal parties would support his candidacy.

Ivan Vilibor Sinčić, Živi Zid president
According to the latest poll, Živi Zid is now the most popular opposition party, so we can say that Sinčić is the new leader of the opposition. The best opportunity for Živi Zid this year is the European Parliament election, as well as presidential elections for Sinčić personally in the winter. The greatest danger is a possible appearance of a new anti-systemic political party that would make him and Živi Zid redundant.

More news on Croatian politics can be found in our special section.

Translated from Jutarnji List.


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