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Far-right party could become kingmaker in Croatia

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A far-right party emerged as a potential kingmaker in Croatia on Thursday after the ruling conservatives came first in hotly contested parliamentary elections but failed to win enough seats to form a new government.

Wednesday’s vote marks a new era of chaotic political uncertainty in the Balkan country. Since declaring independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, the country has been dominated by one political party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

HDZ, led by current Prime Minister Andrei Plenkovic, won 61 seats in the 151-member legislature. Close to final official statistics. That surpassed all rivals, including President Zoran Milanovic’s left-wing coalition Rivers of Justice, which came in second place with 42 seats. The far-right Home Movement came in third with 13 seats.

Speaking in the Croatian capital Zagreb earlier on Thursday, Plenkovic said his party had “won convincingly” but admitted he would need help from rival groups to form a government and secure Served as prime minister for the third time.

He later said in an article post on facebook Negotiations with his unnamed potential allies have already begun. “Everything is going well,” he said, predicting that a government would be formed “very soon” and bravely face his party’s defeat.

Tihomir ChipekA political science professor at the University of Zagreb said the results reflected trends in Europe in general, and in particular the new EU membership that Croatia joined in 2013. The one on the far left is a reaction to Europeanization,” he said.

He said pressure from Brussels to adopt EU policies on gender and LGBTQ rights had “sparked a kind of protest movement that has led to support for far-right politicians”, such as members of the nationalist Homeland movement.

To secure a majority in parliament, the HDZ, which has been badly tarnished by a series of corruption scandals, is likely to need the support of the Fatherland Movement and other groups. Analysts say that unlike similar groups elsewhere, the Homeland Movement prefers to remain in the EU and its support is unlikely to change Croatia’s stance on issues such as support for Ukraine.

“I can say with complete correctness and certainty that the Motherland Movement is the third most powerful political party in Croatia,” party leader Ivan Penava said in a speech after the election. He reiterated a promise made during the campaign to reject any alliance that included left-wing ideological opponents or Serb lawmakers, saying “they cannot be our partners under any circumstances.”

But this leaves open the possibility of joining forces with HDZ, which started out as a far-right party during the Yugoslav wars but later evolved into a more mainstream conservative force. The Homeland Movement opposes many of the ruling party’s European policies, particularly the decision to adopt the EU’s common currency, the euro, but it is closer to the HDZ than to the left-wing Justice River Alliance, the main component of which is President Milanovic’s Social Democratic Party party.

The campaign was dominated by a fierce personal rivalry between Prime Minister Plenkovic and President Milanovic. The two exchanged insults throughout the campaign: Mr Milanovic denounced the prime minister as the “Croatian godfather of crime”, while Mr Plenkovic accused his opponent of being a Russian stooge and a coward for his opposition to helping Ukraine and claims Nato Responsible for the Russian invasion.

However, they did not reward the two men when voters went to the polls on Wednesday, drawing unusually large numbers to parties on the political flank and giving the populist far-right Homeland movement a potential champion in forming a new government. effect. The 62% turnout was Croatia’s highest turnout since 2000.

The election was expected to be a quiet repeat of previous elections until President Milanovic announced early voting and said he would lead the opposition campaign as a candidate for prime minister. Croatia’s Supreme Court declared his candidacy unconstitutional, ruling that he could not run for head of government while he was president. He ignored the ruling.

The president has yet to comment on the election results, but the Social Democratic Party’s nominal leader Peda Gelbin said the party would try to form its own coalition government to prevent Plenkovic from remaining in power.

“This is not over yet,” Mr. Gelbin said. “We still need days, weeks, maybe months of negotiations.”

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