Croatia’s ruling conservatives win big in Parliamentary vote

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — The ruling conservatives overwhelmingly won Croatia’s parliamentary elections held on Sunday amid a spike in new coronavirus cases as the latest European Union (EU) member state leaned further to the right.

With over 90 per cent of the vote counted, the governing Croatian Democratic Union, or HDZ, won 66 seats in Croatia’s 151-seat Parliament and is likely to form a new coalition government with smaller right-wing groups.

Acting Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic praised what he described as a “great result and a great victory”.

“Such a result for the HDZ, which is our victory, is not only great, but an obligation,” Plenkovic said. “It is an obligation because we had a tough mandate full of challenges behind us, and challenges ahead of us are even bigger.”

An alliance led by the liberal Social Democratic Party, or SDP, the main opposition party, won 41 seats while in third place is the right-wing Homeland Movement led by folk singer Miroslav Skoro with 16 seats.

SDP leader Davor Bernardic conceded the defeat and suggested he would resign the leadership position. “Of course, this is a bad result and I’m ready to go,” he said.

The Homeland Movement was recently formed and swiftly gained popularity despite public outrage over some of its staunchly hard-line and nationalist views.

The party is believed to have chipped away some of the votes from HDZ, which has dominated the political scene in Croatia since gaining independence from the Serb-led Yugoslavia in 1991.

Croatia’s Prime Minister incumbent Andrej Plenkovic casts his ballot at a polling station in Zagreb, Croatia. PHOTO: AP