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News 22 May 17

HDZ Loses in Cities, Wins Counties, in Election

In Sunday's local elections the governing Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, performed poorly in most of the big cities - but won in 11 of the country's 20 counties.

Sven Milekic
Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic holding a speech in the elections night. Photo: Anadolu Agency

Croatia’s local elections on Sunday confirmed the strength of the governing centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, in the counties, but underlined its lack of strength in the major cities of Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Osijek.

The HDZ won in 11 out of Croatia’s 20 counties, while its traditional opponent, the opposition Social Democratic Party, SDP, managed to win in only five.

However, the HDZ scored badly in major cities, especially in Zagreb, where its list for the city assembly won only 11.95 per cent of the votes, compared to 14.72 per cent in the 2013 elections.

Drago Prgomet, the HDZ’s candidate for mayor, won only 5.6 per cent of the votes, probably losing some votes to Bruna Esih, another right-wing candidate previously affiliated with the party, who won a surprising 10.98 per cent of the votes.

Prgomet took responsibility for his poor result but noted that some HDZ leaders had supported Esih, and not only the controversial former Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic, who was cast out of the party earlier this month for joining Esih’s list for the Zagreb assembly.

As predicted by most polls, the incumbent as Zagreb Mayor, Milan Bandic, again polled most votes, 30.87 per cent, followed by the opposition-backed Anka Mrak-Taritas, with 24.48 per cent. How the voters for the third-placed candidate, the independent Sandra Svaljek, who won 19.14 per cent, then vote on June 4 will be crucial for the outcome of the second round.

In his speech, Bandic called “for a great coalition” in the city assembly – not specifying which parties should be part of it, however.

In the second biggest city, Split, the HDZ candidate, Andro Krstulovic Opara, won 26.1 per cent and will try to win in the second round against the local retailer owner, Zeljko Kerum, who won 30.4 per cent. Kerum was Split's Mayor between 2009 and 2013.

The HDZ won most seats in the Split assembly, 25.31 per cent, followed by Kerum’s Croatian Civic Party, HGS, with 19.2 per cent. The majority will therefore depend on post-election coalitions with other parties that entered the assembly.

In the third biggest city, Rijeka, Vojko Obersnel, another long-time mayor from the SDP, won 40.88 per cent of the votes, followed by the independent, Hrvoje Buric, with 17.66 per cent. The HDZ’s Kristijan Stanicic missed his chance to enter the second round, with 13.95 per cent of the votes. The SDP will stay in power in the city, after winning 37.78 per cent of votes for the assembly.

In the eastern city of Osijek, an independent, Ivan Vrkic, won 37.05 per cent of votes, while the HDZ’s Ivana Sojat came second with 17.17 per cent. He now has only a slim chance of winning in the second round. In the city assembly, the HDZ won 22.78 per cent of the votes, just behind the SDP and their coalition, which won 23.23 per cent.

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