Croatia elects a central left coalition after eight years of conservative HDZ rule. The new government will have difficult tasks ahead.
By Natasa Radic for Southeast European Times in Zagreb -- 05/12/11
Croatian centre-left opposition party leaders Ivan Jakovcic (left to right), Zoran Milanovic, Radimir Cacic and Silvano Hrelja, celebrate their victory in the parliamentary elections on Sunday (December 4th) in Zagreb. [Petar Kos/SETimes]
The left-wing coalition Kukuriku won Sunday's (December 4th) parliamentary elections by a landslide. The coalition, composed of four political parties (SDP, HNS, IDS and HSU) and headed by the Social-Democrats, will lead during one of the most challenging periods in the country's history.
Croatia is at the doorstep of the EU -- with full membership scheduled for 2013 -- and is fighting economic recession reflected in the high unemployment rate and deteriorating living standards.
Kukuriku will not have to find additional ruling coalition partners, as it scored enough seats to form the government: 78, according to unofficial results.
Political celebrities and prominent figures from public life gathered on Sunday evening at the Kukuriku election headquarters in the Museum of Modern Art in Zagreb.
Former President Stipe Mesic came to congratulate the winners, while President Ivo Josipovic -- who was a member of the SDP before assuming office -- said that the winner has difficult tasks ahead.
The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) suffered an historic defeat -- a similar result happened only in 2000 -- winning 48 seats.
The biggest surprises, according to preliminary results, were seven seats won by the Croatian Labour Party and two for the independent list of Don Ivan Grubisic, a Roman Catholic priest from Split.
"I can promise that we will do everything to do our jobs with the greatest honour and respect", Grubisic said afterwards.
"I voted for the coalition, but I am not sure if they should be happy about the result. Hard times are ahead of us and I expect austerity measures and everyday life becoming even more difficult. But, at least we ousted HDZ out of office, finally," Darko Matic, an unemployed man in his early 30s, told SETimes.
"I think that the newest force, the Labour Party, is the only one with a clean start as they are new. They did not participate in politics so far and they represent ordinary, normal people. This is why I like them and gave them a chance," Sanja Radic, an economist from Zagreb, told SETimes after voting.
Over at the Labour Party's elections headquarters Sunday night, party president Dragutin Lesar was ecstatic.
Ivan Jakovcic, an IDS leader, told SETimes, "We will have a very stable government and we have won. We have a great responsibility. The people have given us support and they can trust us. In four years, this country will be a much happier place than today."
Greeted by loud applause and cheers, HDZ president and Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor told supporters and party colleagues, "I want to thank all those who have trusted us. These were the most difficult elections for us; we did not have the equal opportunities as our rivals who had the sympathy of the media who concluded the results of these elections much earlier."
"Our result is good, even though we are not entirely satisfied with them. But we are not defeated, we are not on our knees and we are not humiliated. From this moment on, we start to work on our victory in the next parliamentary elections. We stand firmly on our feet. We will serve our people as the opposition, too," Kosor concluded.