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News 26 Sep 14

Leftist Rival Overtakes Croatia's SDP in Polls

Croatia's ruling Social Democratic Party, SDP, is losing support to a new left-wing rival, ORaH, which has overtaken it in the most recent polls.

Sven Milekic
Mirela Holy, President of ORaH. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A new poll conducted by IPSOS Puls agency shows that Croatia's governing Social Democratic Party, SDP, is no longer the secondmost popular party after the opposition centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ.

According to the results, published on Thursday, the HDZ is in the lead with the support of 25.7 per cent of those who took part in the survey.

Hoever, the secondmost party is longer the ruling SDP but a new left-wing environmentalist party, Croatian Sustainable Development, ORaH, which scored 17.9 per cent support in the poll.

The SDP has fallen into third place, with 17.3 per cent - the first time in 20 years that it has not been either number one or number two in the opinion polls.

A survey last month conducted by the same agency put the HDZ on 25.9 per cent, the SDP on 17.5 per cent and ORaH on 15 per cent.

Regarding candidates for the upcoming presidential election, current President Ivo Josipovic, who is supported by the SDP and other centre and left parties, is way in front with 49 per cent. As such, he looks likely to win the election hands down in the first round.

The HDZ’s presidential candidate, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, came second in the poll with the support of 38 per cent of voters.

Sociology professor Drazen Lalic told BIRN what while the poll results were worrying for the SDP, it could still recover its position as the standard bearer of the left.

“It’s hard to say what the actual results of these parties in an election would be. If voters on the left recognize the SDP as the strongest 'dam' against the HDZ, the results would be somewhat different,” Lalic asserted.

“The poll results are still not 100-per-cent proof that ORaH will be the second strongest party, ahead of the SDP," he added.

According to Lalić, the results point to voters' disappointment with the SDP, with party politics generally, with the failure to implement reforms and with the poor bad image of SDP leader, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic.

Regarding ORaH, Lalic noted that when the party was formed in 2013, its leader, Mirela Holy, a former SDP member, had three major tasks: to assemble suitable candidates, construct an ideology, and present this ideology as a means of pulling Croatia out of its current crisis.

“However, ORaH didn’t manage to do all that and it is still a one-woman party,” Lalic concluded, adding that ORaH still lacked convincing strategies about how to end the long-lasting economic crisis in Croatia.

Given the SDP's failure to handle the crisis and implement reforms, the HDZ should also be scoring much higher results as the main opposition party, Lalic stressed.

“In this situation, the HDZ should be polling at least 35 per cent,” Lalic said, noting that HDZ ratings had remained at roughly the same level since they lost the elections in 2011.

Professor of political philosophy Zarko Puhovski said former supporters of the SDP and the governing coalition were clearly re-grouping.

“I see this as a tactic used by a part of SDP leadership to get rid of Milanovic, by strengthening ORaH and putting Milanovic into the position where he has to make a coalition with ORaH - and lose power,” Puhovski said.

Regarding the HDZ, Puhovski said that it was a superior party in terms of its internal organization, on which party boss Tomislav Karamarko has worked for the last year.

“The HDZ will always win [an election] if the turnout is high, around 80 per cent, because in terms of the general national division of voters left-right, the right are the majority," he said.

The HDZ would also win with a very low turnout of 20 to 25 per cent, "owing to their excellent internal organisation”, Puhovski added.

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