- Title: Croatia to hold parliamentary vote amid economic, COVID-19 uncertainties
- Date: 3rd July 2020
- Summary: VARIOUS OF DIGITAL BILLBOARD FOR CROATIAN DEMOCRATIC UNION (HDZ) SHOWING CROATIAN PRIME MINISTER AND HDZ LEADER, ANDREJ PLENKOVIC
- Embargoed: 17th July 2020 11:41
- Keywords: Andrej Plenkovic Croatian Democratic Union Croatian Prime Minister Croatian election Social Democrats
- Location: ZAGREB AND OPATIJA, CROATIA
- City: ZAGREB AND OPATIJA, CROATIA
- Country: Croatia
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA002CL9AEDJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Croatians vote on Sunday (July 5) to choose a government whose abiding challenge will be to haul the economy out of recession triggered by the coronavirus outbreak, with an awkward ruling coalition the likely outcome.
The centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), led by the incumbent pro-European Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, believes it can re-emerge as the biggest party in the parliamentary election and with the strongest chance to lead a coalition.
A recent opinion poll gave the HDZ 27% of the vote, just ahead of the main opposition Social Democrats (SDP) at 25%. The nationalist bloc Domovinski Pokret (Homeland Movement), led by popular singer Miroslav Skoro, drew just over 10%.
Plenkovic and SDP leader Davor Bernardic have both ruled out a 'grand coalition', each publicly targeting a haul of 60-plus seats in parliament, with at least 76 needed for a majority.
Plenkovic pledged to continue efforts to raise living standards and integrate Croatia more deeply into the European Union, in part by eventually joining the euro currency zone.
Bernardic, whose SDP heads a 'Restart Coalition' including a few smaller centre-left parties, tried to win over voters by declaring that the removal of as many as 15 ministers during Plenkovic's term in office underscored HDZ incompetence.
Skoro, the populist bloc leader, accuses both top parties of cronyism and economic mismanagement over the past 20 years, but could end up playing kingmaker.
Some Zagreb residents said his movement representated change for Croatia and hoped high emigration of young and educated Croatians could be reversed.
Croatia is facing an economic crunch in the autumn and a broad coalition would likely become the only realistic option as neither HDZ or SPD will be in a position to govern alone, analyst Davor Gjenero said.
The economy was hit by a spring lockdown and could contract by up to 10% by year-end, analysts say, driven by a 60-70% downturn in tourism revenue this summer. Tourism generates almost a fifth of GDP.
(Production: Antonio Bronic, Branko Filipovic, Fedja Grulovic, Lewis Macdonald)
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