Croatia holds snap vote with no clear winner in sight


The left-wing Peoples' Coalition won 58 seats in Croatia's 151-seat parliament, according to the poll Sunday conducted by Croatia's independent Ipsos Puls agency, carried by state TV.

HDZ current coalition partner, MOST, won 13 seats, thus again becoming the kingmaker, while SDP former coalition partner the Istrian Democratic Assembly secured three MPs.

With public debt now at 87 per cent, both main parties are pledging to reduce state spending and to make the tax system more effective, but they are also vague on details of how they will cut costs and which groups are likely to suffer.

Croatia's previous, right-wing government collapsed last spring after only six months in power, paralyzed by internal bickering among the coalition members.

Nearly a year of political deadlock has impeded urgently-needed economic reforms, with the economy relying heavily on tourism along the Adriatic coast.

Croatia's government fell Thursday (17 June) after Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic lost a confidence vote in parliament, in a serious blow to the country's nationalist rulers after only five months in power. He will be able to choose between the new party Most (Bridge), which has however already set a number of conditions with a strong populist connotation, or the Social Democrats of Zoran Milanovic, who indirectly opened last night to the hypothesis of a grand coalition.

In turn, 39-year-old administrator Marko Tomic said that he was voting for HDZ, praising the new party leadership for "modern, European perspective".

The Social Democrats - or SDP - have failed to capitalize on the political turmoil that accompanied the HDZ-led previous government.

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President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic urged Croats to come out and vote, saying the country's future is in their hands.

"For the past months we had an unstable and destructive government", he said.

The BBC 's Guy Delauney in Zagreb says that the rhetoric has turned ugly in the run-up to the election.

The economy, relying largely on tourism along the country's Adriatic coast, remains one of the European Union's weakest despite some recent positive indicators attributed to membership of the bloc.

The prolonged turmoil would make it hard for any cabinet to address Croatia's rising debt burden and follow through on an economic program to nurture the economy after a six-year recession wiped out more than a 10th of gross domestic product.

After suffering prolonged recession before and after joining the European Union in 2013, Croatia is now showing signs of a return to modest growth, but much of the economy remains moribund and unemployment is stuck at about 14 per cent.

Zagreb resident Jelena Micic said she was hopeful things would improve.