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Category: Croatia

Russian, Slovenian, Croatian elections: Final Results

Russia: The ruling party, United Russia, finishes with 238 seats in the 450 seat Duma.  Shares of the vote: United Russia, 49.54%; Communist Party of the Russian Federation, 19.6%;  A Just Russia, 13.22%, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, 10.66%.  Although United Russia narrowly maintains its majority in the Duma, significant election violations were reported and the party’s real level of support is likely to be much lower.  Russia’s presidential elections in March 2012, when Vladimir Putin looked set for a coronation, may yet turn out to be interesting.

Slovenia: A brand new political party, Positive Slovenia, run by Ljubljana’s millionaire mayor, Zoran Jankovic, won Slovenia’s election with 28.53% of the vote.  The centre- right Slovenian Democratic Party, which was expected to win the election, received 26.26%.  The governing Social Democrats won just 10.5% of the vote, crashing from 30.5% in the 2008%. Another new party created by former government minister, Gregor Virant, came fourth with 8.4%, while several smaller parties crossed the 4% threshold.  The electoral arithmetic means that forming a coalition is likely to be difficult: Positive Slovenia has promised to improve the welfare state, while the Slovenian Democratic Party pledged to balance the books and there is also a history of personal animosity between the party’s leaders.  Early elections cannot be ruled out.

Croatia: The opposition coalition won 83 of the 151 seats in the Hrvatski sabor, while the outgoing government, HDZ, won only 40 seats.  Seats also went to a number of small parties.

Election Update: Dramatic Upset in Slovenia, Victory for Opposition in Croatia, Result as Expected in Russia

Slovenia: Exit polls suggest that today’s Slovenian election will be won by a new centre left party led by the Mayor of Ljubljana, Positive Slovenia.  This is a major upset because the centre-right opposition party, the Slovenian Democratic Party, had expected to be the biggest party following the election.  The Slovenian economy has faced major austerity measures in recent years, but Positive Slovenia has promised to create a safe and successful welfare state, an election promise that will be hard to fulfil should Positive Slovenia form a government.

Croatia: As expected, the centre-left opposition Kukuriku party has won an overall majority, winning 83 seats in Croatia’s 151-seat parliament.  HDZ, which has ruled Croatia for 16 of its 20 years of independence, won only 40 seats.

Russia: Exit polls suggest that United Russia has won 45% of the vote in the Duma elections.  This has been reported in some sections of the UK media as an upset but, in fact, the result is precisely as predicted by Russia’s Public Opinion Research Centre, VTsIOM, which produced a ‘forecast’ indicating that United Russia would win 45% of the initial vote but 59% after votes were ‘redistributed’ to account for the 7% threshold.  Some of the less democratic vagaries of Russia’s electoral system were discussed in this blog earlier this week.

Election Profile: Croatia

Tomorrow’s Croatian elections are taking place on schedule, a novelty for European countries in these turbulent times.  However, the campaign has been far from dull. Opposition parties have joined forces against HDZ (Croatian Democratic Party), Croatia’s governing party for sixteen of its twenty independent years.  HDZ’s fall from grace has been dramatic.   Charged with corruption, its assets were seized and its former Prime Minister put on trial in early November.

Meanwhile, the opposition coalition, Kukuriku (‘cock-a-doodle-doo’), looks set to win a comfortable governing majority in parliament.  But victory will be the easy part.  Kukuriku is emphasising its anti-corruption platform, effectively highlighting HDZ’s main weakness.  But the country’s main weakness is its economy, which has been slow to recover from the 2008 downturn. Unemployment is stubbornly high at 17.4%.  Austerity fatigue has already set in, with social discontent rising.

Kururiku’s manifesto, Plan 21, makes for interesting reading.  Unfortunately, as a blueprint for governing in difficult times, it is weak and contradictory.  For example, it bemoans Croatia’s lack of industry, proposing investment to create export-oriented growth production, as if reversing decades of de-industrialisation were that easy.  Manifestos are always optimistic documents, but Plan 21 lacks a sense of realism.

Although decrying neo-liberalism, Kururiku has indicated that an IMF loan may be sought to obtain lower interest rates on Croatia’s debt.   IMF loans come with string attached, and many of Kururiku’s ideas for economic stimulus are unlikely to find support amongst the bean-counters, who have been notoriously dismissive of spend-to-save innovations.   Similarly, plans to create a ‘fairer’ society by increasing state pensions are unlikely to be implemented.

While the Croatian political system will benefit from finally having a strong challenger to HDZ, it will be interesting to see how Kururiku copes with the harsh reality of governing in times of externally-enforced austerity.  The process of turning Plan 21 into a programme for government will be fraught with disagreement and tense negotiation. Unfortunately, party coalitions like Kururiku are notoriously unstable, often struggling to compromise after achieving their unifying aims of ousting the common enemy.

The Croatian elections will be held on Sunday 4th December.

To read Kururiku’s manifesto, click here: http://www.kukuriku.org/plan21

To read HDZ’s manifesto, click here: http://www.hdz.hr/program/