The Economist Intelligence Unit ViewsWire (25 September) carries the following report on the upcoming election in Croatia suggesting a swing to the conventional centre-left and away from the Croation Democratic Union, which has tried to clean up its act in the past few years and become the Fianna Fáil of SE Europe (actually, perhaps not the best analogy, given the Irish PM’s current inabilty to remember various large and odd payment to him and his party, but let that pass). Interestingly, the Croatian Pensioner’s Party seems set to re-enter parliament and increase its vote share, if the polls are to be believed. Despite their co-operation to the HDZ, I wonder if they will end in – or influencing – government, shwoing the same pragmatism as their fellow Greys in neighbouring Slovenia. The HSU’s slippers-and-armchairs-in-the-sunset does not exactly chime with the West Europe vogue for seeing retired people as active citizens, generators of social capital, civi cohesion and (part-time) economic growth etc etc Meanwhile Angus Reid global press monitoring
, however, quotes a poll published in the Croatian press putting the HSU on a more niche score of 6.4%. EIU piece follows
The opposition leads the polls as an election nears
Ahead of the parliamentary election, now expected on November 25th 2007, the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) has consolidated its poll lead over the incumbent Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). The SDP first opened up a clear lead over the HDZ during the first half of 2007, following the illness and subsequent death of its leader, Ivica Racan. Under his successor, the 40 year-old Zoran Milanovic, the SDP has maintained its popularity, and in many polls appears to have built an even stronger advantage.
Mr Milanovic says he would nominate Ljubo Jurcic as the party’s candidate for prime minister. Mr Jurcic, a professor of economics, has only recently joined the SDP and is popular in his own right. Mr Milanovic’s recent statements on the importance of parliamentary control of elected governments have led to speculation that he might be coveting the role of speaker of the house in an SDP-led legislature. There have been suggestions that potential conflict between the political ambitions of the two men might produce some tension within the SDP. Nevertheless, the party is in a strong position in terms of support among voters.
Not there yet
Even if November’s election results reflect current polls, the SDP will need to secure the support of several other parties to form a viable government. According to the latest monthly poll carried out by the PULS organisation for Croatian television, the SDP commands the support of 29% of the electorate, compared with 24% for the HDZ. If this pattern were repeated in a national election, the SDP could win as many as eight out of ten electoral districts and have 56 MPs, as against 42 for the HDZ. There is an 11th electoral district, composed of the Croatian diaspora, which traditionally elects HDZ MPs. Parliamentary representation from this district will depend on the number of votes cast, but in the previous election in November 2003 the votes of the diaspora secured four MPS for the HDZ.
The poll shows t hree groupings competing for support behind the SDP and the HDZ. Foremost among these is a coalition—between the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), the Croatian Peasants’ Party (HSS) and a smaller regional party—that has the support of 9% of the electorate (implying 14 seats in an election). This coalition is closely followed by the right-wing Croatian Party of Rights (HSP), with 8% (which is likely to translate into 13 seats in parliament), and the
Croatian Pensioners’ Party (HSU), also with 8% (although the national distribution of the HSU’s support points to just eight seats in parliament). Backing for the centre-left Croatian People’s Party (HNS), the most likely coalition partner for the SDP, has declined, although it is still above the 5% minimum threshold for parliamentary representation. The HNS’s attempt to promote
Radomir Cacic as candidate for prime minister does not appear to have helped the party, and the HNS seems to have lost support to the SDP in recent months.
The pollssuggest that the SDP will emerge as the largest single party following the November election. However, the SDP will need to build a multi-party coalition in order to form a viable government. Aside from its traditional political ally, the HNS, the SDP will probably need to secure the support of the HSLS-HSS coalition. Although the SDP has worked with these parties in government before, the HSLS-HSS coalition has refused to commit to any pre-election co-operation with the SDP, the HDZ or the HNS, and has suggested that it is willing to work with any party that offers concessions in areas that it considers most important, such as securing the interests of agriculture in EU membership negotiations.”