Conservatives win election in Croatia
With most of the votes counted it appears that the conservative opposition has won the parliamentary election in Croatia, with the ruling Social Democrats trailing behind in second place. The third strongest party, and therefore a potential coalition partner, is the new liberal party Most. This party will initiate reforms in the country, some commentators write. Others fear Croatia will move further away from the EU once more.
Reset for Croatia
The success of the new Most party in Croatia's elections raises hopes of reform in the country, the centre-left daily Novi list comments: "So there was a surprise after all! A political alternative that emerged only shortly before the election, a low-budget startup put together in the garage of [regional politician and Most leader] Božo Petrov, is now following up on the success of its candidates in the regional elections by becoming the real winner of the election for the eighth legislative period of the Croatian parliament. … What Most wants can be described in computer jargon as a 'reset for Croatia'. This is also what Croatia really needs - to get rid of the inefficient and useless content and replace it with new content that makes us a more humane society and a truly European country. … If Most turns out to be indispensable for the formation of a new government it will mark the start of a new chapter in the history of Croatian democracy."
Election outcome a threat for EU
The result of the election in Croatia puts its relations with Europe at risk, warns the liberal daily Südostschweiz: "In Croatia on the one side you have a listless and weak government that hasn't come up with any new ideas since the country joined the EU and which is lethargically presiding over a permanent economic downturn. On the other stands an opposition that is covering up its cluelessness with nationalist slogans with references to a supposedly glorious past and juggling with resentment against an allegedly decadent West. This constellation is dangerous. In EU member state Hungary it has produced the model of 'illiberal democracy': robust, authoritarian, populist rule. … Croatia doesn't look set to follow in Hungary's footsteps. Even if the nationalist right is in the lead it will hardly find any suitable coalition partners to implement its plans. But that's not enough to soothe our fears. The Most party, which with its surprisingly good showing is now in a position to tip the scales, does not represent a way out of the polarisation but merely the desire for that way out."
EU's black sheep has its work cut out for it
The new government has its work cut out for it after the elections, the centre-left daily Delo observes: "With national debt at just under 93 percent of GDP, Croatia is one of the biggest deficit sinners in the EU. These times are anything but rosy for the country. Nevertheless it seems that Croatia still doesn't want to accept what living in the EU family entails. Several examples come to mind, from the conflict with Berlin and Brussels over the European arrest warrant to that over the refugees. Croatia quarrels with its neighbours, with Hungary over oil and with Italy over broadcasting frequencies. The EU Commission will also ask the new Croatian government to continue with the international tribunal on the border dispute with Slovenia. ... That is likely to be a difficult task for Zagreb because Brussels is pushing for a compromise. And while the word is common enough in the EU, in Croatia it is always understood as a defeat and a retreat that harms its own interests."