Everybody is talking with everybody – HNS with SDP, SDP with HSS, HSS with HDZ, HDZ with HSP AS…
With just two months before the early parliamentary elections and one month before candidate lists have to be submitted to the State Electoral Commission, parties are increasingly talking to each other about pre-election coalitions.
The largest opposition party is expected to go to the polls with a group similar to the Croatia Is Growing coalition from the last years’ parliamentary elections. At the time, the coalition consisted of SDP, HNS, Labour Party, Croatian Pensioners’ Party and several smaller parties. While no final agreement has been made as of yet, it is hard to expect that any of the parties might choose to go to the polls alone. The five percent electoral threshold is too high for them and they might be left out of Parliament completely. HNS did mention the possibility over the weekend that they might be ready to go alone, but that was mostly just to improve their position in negotiations with SDP. The only major addition to this coalition might be HSS, which was at last year’s elections part of HDZ’s coalition.
While other parties are preparing just for parliamentary elections, HDZ still has to choose its next party president. If MEP Andrej Plenković wins as expected, it is likely that he would try to move the party more towards the centre. That would mean that he might get rid of some of HDZ’s right-wing coalition partners, primarily HSP AS. The negotiations between the two parties will reportedly start of Monday. The decision for HDZ will not be an easy one, since they would like to present themselves as a more moderate party, but at the same time they would not like to lose right-wing voters. Also, they will try to keep HSS and HSLS as part of their coalition. While HSLS’s support is not in question, HSS is a completely different story.
The major change for MOST in comparison with last elections will probably be the addition of current Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković as part of their team. Since they claim they are different and morally superior to all other political parties, it is hard to imagine that MOST would enter into a pre-election coalition with anyone. With Orešković as part of their team, they will target the centre-right voters, and it can be expected they will have the support of Catholic Church, which is very influential with that part of the electorate. With HDZ’s expected move toward the centre, it is likely that these two parties will fight for the same voters.
Croatian Peasants’ Party (HSS) is the most talked about potential coalition partner on both sides of the political spectrum. In November, they were part of HDZ’s Patriotic Coalition. However, they were not satisfied with the number of seats they won in Parliament (1) and ministerial posts (0). Therefore, at the party congress they dismissed party president Branko Hrg and elected a new one, Krešo Beljak, who is personally much closer to SDP than to HDZ. Therefore, it is quite possible that HSS will change sides and enter partnership with the left coalition. While not very popular at the national level, HSS does have strong support in more rural parts of the country, as well as a number of local mayors and prefects.
As an anarchist party, Živi Zid will not enter into any coalition, and it is probable that no one would join them anyway. The party has lately been in the headlines due to disputes over who is the legally elected party president, and the court proceedings about the issue are likely. However, polls do show that Živi Zid could have a number of MPs in the next Parliament and could even hold the keys for ruling majority. If that happens, the chaos witnessed during the last six months might seem like a utopia in comparison with what awaits us in the future.
The Istrian regional party is expected to once again go to the polls independently. They usually contest just one parliamentary constituency and almost always have 3 MPs elected, who usually support the left-wing coalition.
Smaller parties will certainly enter into numerous coalition, trying desperately and unsuccessfully to reach the electoral threshold. Many of them in effect exist just for a short time prior to elections, and then enter hibernation until the next elections. Among these, the only parties which can reasonably be expected to have at least a few MPs are the party of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić and perhaps the Reformists party of former Deputy Prime Minister Radimir Čačić, who could be elected in the north-western part of the country. The Pametno party from Split is also a contender, trying to win over disappointed and more liberal voters who used to support MOST.