2024 General Election in Croatia in a nutshell

2024 General Election in Croatia in a nutshell
Element5Digital.Pexels 2024


Wiktoria Walczyk

Coordinator of Southeast Asia & Pacific Team, 

Global Human Rights Defence

The importance of the 2024 General Election in Croatia

For over three decades, Croatia's political landscape has been dominated by a single party, which spearheaded the struggle for independence from Yugoslavia. However, the upcoming general election presents an unexpected challenge to this long-standing hegemony, with populist forces gaining significant traction. The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), originally founded in 1989 with ethnonationalist leanings, underwent a transformation into a more mainstream, right-wing entity with a pro-European stance. Holding power for the majority of Croatia's post-independence years, either independently or through coalitions, HDZ's grip on governance has been formidable. Despite initial polling favoring HDZ over its primary rival, the Social Democratic Party, and various smaller factions, the party finds itself besieged by corruption allegations, public discontent over rising living costs, and criticism regarding its leadership style, often characterised as detached or authoritarian. The emergence of the far-right Homeland Movement further complicates the political landscape, potentially wielding significant influence in a fragmented Parliament scenario where neither major party secures a majority.

The candidates and possible winners

Croatia is currently in the midst of parliamentary elections to fill the 151 seats, with the winning party or coalition appointing the next prime minister, a pivotal position in the nation's governance. The incumbent prime minister, Andrej Plenkovic, representing HDZ, faces a challenge from Croatia's president, Zoran Milanovic, who aims to assume the prime ministerial role under the Social Democratic Party's banner. Milanovic's candidacy was initially contested due to constitutional constraints, leading to accusations of judicial interference by HDZ. Plenkovic's tenure has seen economic growth fueled by tourism and EU funding, yet his leadership has been clouded by corruption allegations and controversial appointments, including that of an HDZ loyalist as attorney general. Milanovic's campaign emphasises justice and opposes military aid to Ukraine, aligning with anti-establishment sentiments. Despite HDZ's expected lead in opinion polls, the possibility of a coalition government, potentially involving the far-right Homeland Movement, looms, presenting a dynamic electoral landscape.

Sources and further readings:

Adriano Milovan, ‘Croatian parliament to be dissolved on 14 March, elections to be held in April, May’ (Euractiv, 11 March 2024) https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/croatian-parliament-to-be-dissolved-on-14-march-elections-to-be-held-in-april-may/ (accessed 16 April 2024).

Andrew Higgins, ‘Croatia 2024 General Election: What To Know’ (The New York Times, 10 April 2024) https://www.nytimes.com/2024/04/10/world/europe/croatia-2024-general-election.html#link-b0bcfb4 (accessed 16 April 2024).