Hardliners hindering formation of government in Croatia

Despite winning the most votes in Croatia's parliamentary elections the conservative HDZ needs a coalition partner. According to media reports the party of the Serbian minority has said that it won't partner up with the HDZ if current culture minister Zlatko Hasanbegović, who has triggered controversy with revisionist and nationalist statements, is a minister in the new government. Will the HDZ chief be able to make do without the hardliners in his party?

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Večernji list (HR) /

HDZ leader shouldn't repudiate right wing

HDZ chief Plenković needs to play his cards right to avoid annoying Hasanbegović and his supporters, Vecernji list comments:

“The right wing of the HDZ expects two things: that Plenković keeps Hasanbegović as culture minister and that he doesn't let anyone from the Serb minority into the government. Hasanbegović himself didn't make things any easier when he told Pupovac [the representative of the Serb minority] that he expected to remain minister. But as an experienced diplomat Plenković will manage this situation diplomatically. He will neither keep Hasanbegović as minister nor include anyone from the SDSS [Independent Democratic Serbs Party] in his government. But as Hasanbegović can't simply be a normal MP because of his political clout, the logical move would be to give him a high-ranking post in parliament, for example that of vice-president.”

Novi list (HR) /

Revisionists have no place in government

If HDZ leader Plenković wants to fulfil his promise to renew the conservative party and distance himself from his predecessor Karamarko he must refuse to give the right-wing hardliner Hasanbegović a government post, writes Novi list:

“If he gives Hasanbegović a ministerial post once more this would be a major victory for the Karamarko faction and its revisionism. If he doesn't, the story of a 'new HDZ' and major changes in the party that 'Croatia's society as a whole will soon observe' may be continued. … To impose Hasanbegović's fanaticism and radicalism on the Croatians even though the parties right of the HDZ failed to win even a fraction of the votes would be an own goal for Plenković.”

Novi list (HR) /

Milanović's departure won't solve the problem

After his SDP party obtained its worst election results since 2007 on the weekend the party's leader and ex-prime minister Milanović has announced that he won't run for re-election as the SDP's leader. Novi list believes the time has come for fundamental reforms:

“This party has completely failed when it comes to providing a left-wing alternative to the current disastrous economic model. … The problem is that there is no one in the SDP or its leading ranks right now who can offer any alternative policies. Unfortunately the party is in tatters intellectually and in terms of its human resources and has also become hostage to Milanović's ego. This is why Milanović's departure won't solve all the SDP's problem, and much less if he is replaced with a Milanović clone like [current transport minister] Siniša Hajdaš Dončić. If it wants to succeed the SDP needs new faces and profound ideological reform.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Party leader has lost touch with reality

Milanović has only himself to blame for his party's loss of votes, Dnevnik observes:

“Zoran Milanović is a classic example of a politician who after many years of occupying high-ranking party and state posts has lost his political compass and lost touch with reality. You would expect someone with such a long political career behind him to be well acquainted with the intricacies of high politics and to learn from victories and defeats. But his long years of (excessive) power in combination with his complacency, arrogance and ignorance prevented the ex-prime minister and leader of the Social Democrats from becoming a wise politician who could have at least also earned respect from people outside his party - if not votes.”

Novi list (HR) /

Nothing new or appealing

The Croatians have voted the way they always do for lack of a better alternative on the political market, Novi List observes:

“This is another confirmation that the Croatians don't change their minds easily, they don't like risks and in the end they vote for 'their own' candidates. So the vote results are like the last ones: a deadlock: No matter who manages to cobble together a government in the end, in these elections there are only losers. The ever lower voter turnout is a clear sign that for around half of the electorate there is nothing new, appealing or promising on the market of political ideas and leaders. No one has the sole power to govern. The SDP and the HDZ have once again reaffirmed the rifts and boundaries that divide Croatia ideologically and territorially.”

Večernji list (HR) /

No time for any more wrangling

Young Croatians are turning their backs on their country en masse, but the parties have nothing better to do than bicker among themselves, Večernj List writes in annoyance:

“ If the election forecasts are to be believed, Croatia will end up with yet another navel-gazing government. Voters are deeply polarised. But in view of the large number who have already voted by leaving Croatia to find a better life abroad, we cannot afford to go on wasting time with unproductive party wrangling. This mass exodus will destroy the already fragile balance that has enabled the population to just about survive the prolonged economic crisis. The new government must act swiftly. A state that loses tens of thousands of young people, its productive force, has no future.”

Delo (SI) /

Tussle between two ambitious politicians

Delo examines the two leading candidates of the major parties, HDZ chief Andrej Plenković and Zoran Milanović of the Social Democrats:

“There can be no doubt that they are now the two strongest Croatian politicians. Both are extremely ambitious, and both see themselves occupying only the highest political posts. Milanović has demonstrated this on numerous occasions, and successfully demonstrated his superiority in his political clash with the backwards-looking former HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko. But since Karamarko was forced to resign as HDZ leader and Plenković has taken over, Milanović's superiority is no longer so clear-cut. Karamarko was an old-fashioned politician, and a lousy speaker to boot. Now that he has pulled out, Plenković is Milanović's equal in every respect - clever, agreeable, and an excellent orator.”