After Croatian Elections, Parties to Decide Whether to Change Their Leaders

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How many party leaders will survive after the Croatian election drama is concluded?

Most parliamentary parties have to hold internal elections within six months after parliamentary elections, whose outcome will greatly influence the position of leaders in some of the parties. Although HDZ and its Patriotic Coalition were the relative winners of the elections with three seats in parliament more than SDP’s Croatia Is Growing coalition, the result was still far below their expectations. They were hoping to have between 68 and 72 seats, with the most optimistic estimates going as far as 76, which would be a clear majority. Although during the election night some have already started blaming HDZ president Tomislav Karamarko for the results, it is expected that he will be able to keep peace within party ranks as long as negotiations about the new government are going on, reports Vecernji List on November 14, 2015.

The party is now concentrated on trying to make a deal with MOST (with new elections being one of the options) and is currently not thinking about intra-party elections, let alone a new party president. Their coalition partners are also dissatisfied, and Karamarko’s position will obviously depend on the outcome of the talks with MOST. Ever since Karamarko took over HDZ three years ago, there have been rumours that party grandee Vladimir Šeks is preparing member of European Parliament Andrej Plenković to be the new party leader. Plenković has never clearly denied this information, nor his possible ambitions.

Zoran Milanović is in a much better situation. Besides achieving what is realistically the best possible result for SDP, the fact is that just ten months ago no one in the party believed that any kind of victory is even possible. Everybody was expecting a complete debacle. Although Milanović did not win, the very fact that he did not lose the elections and that SDP currently has better chances than HDZ to form the new government has significantly strengthened Milanović’s position. Moreover, even if he does not stay as prime minister, he is likely to remain president of SDP, because many party members believe that no one could have achieved better results.

It is hard to assess whether anyone could even try to bring him down. Some of SDP leaders would like to do it, for example, Primorje-Gorski Kotar Country Prefect Zlatko Komadina who had previously announced his candidacy, and member of European Parliament Tonino Picula is also being mentioned. However, they are all wisely keeping quiet and waiting to see what will happen.

HNS will have to elect a new president, and the elections are expected in March. Međimurje County Prefect Matija Posavec has already said he had received the highest number of preferential votes and that the fact should be respected. However, Posavec is not the only one who would want to replace Vesna Pusić as party president. One of potential candidates is Varaždin County Prefect Predrag Štromar, as well as current Minister of Economy Ivan Vrdoljak, who according to many has the best chances because he has the support of current president Vesna Pusić.

HSS president Branko Hrg has confirmed that intra-party elections must be held within six months, but added that first it has to be seen whether new parliamentary elections will be held. He believes that he will be re-elected, since the party entered the parliament thanks to an agreement with HDZ.

Živi Zid is a party which does not have a president, but rather five co-presidents, and Ivan Vilibor Sinčić is just one of them. It is difficult to say whether the party will punish the leadership for winning only one parliamentary seat. HDSSB had internal elections a year ago so they do not expect to have new elections in the next three years. Ruža Tomašić will remain president of Croatian Conservative Party until the party congress. She is not sure if she wants to remain president, but the decision will be made by the party presidency. After the electoral defeat of ORaH, Mirela Holy has immediately offered her resignation as party president. The party will hold a special conference in about three months.


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