Croatia: a new government coalition that includes the far-right

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of acting Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has reached a coalition agreement with the far-right Fatherland Movement, bringing the formation of a government closer, HRT reports.

After talks between the parties on May 8, Plenković shared the outlines of the coalition agreement, which provides for the Fatherland Movement to be given three ministerial posts, including agriculture.

A new Ministry of Demography will also be created for the Croatian far-right, with the head of the ministry holding the position of deputy prime minister. Plenković emphasized that Croatia will be “the first country in the European Union to create such a ministry.”

Nevertheless, the Croatian Democratic Union and the Fatherland Movement still need the support of one more MP to get the 76 seats that would guarantee a majority in parliament.

Until now, the HDZ, a party representing Croatia’s Serbian minority, has provided additional votes in the coalition government, but its cooperation with the more right-wing Fatherland Movement is unlikely to be possible.

The early elections in Croatia are the result of large-scale protests that swept across the country at the beginning of the year due to corruption accusations against HDZ by their political opponents.

As a result of the snap elections, Prime Minister Plenkovic’s party retained a relative majority but lost some of the votes needed to form a coalition.

  • The Croatian Democratic Union received 61 seats (out of 151) in the Croatian Sabor (parliament).
  • The Social Democrats (SDP) took second place, though with an unexpectedly significant gap of 42 seats.
  • The third place and the golden share went to the right-wing populists from Domovinski pokret (Fatherland Movement)—14 seats;
  • 11 more mandates went to the Most party, 10 to Možemo!, two each to the Istrian Democratic Sabor and the Independent Platform Sjever;
  • Finally, Fokus/Republika has one mandate.

Croatia’s pro-Russian president, Zoran Milanovic, ran on the SDP list without resigning his presidential mandate, despite legal conflicts. His intention to lead the government failed. Known for his radical statements, Milanovic said that the Constitutional Court’s decision banning him from leading the government after the April 17 snap parliamentary elections was “preparations for a coup d’etat.”

Interestingly, the Social Democrats are the most pro-Russian force in Croatia, not the far right.

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