Croats and Slovenes turn toward the left
ZAGREB / LJUBLJANA
Croatia’s main opposition leader Zoran Milanovic (2L) and his coalition partners Ivan Jakovcic (L), Radimir Cacic (2R) and Silvano Hrelja (R) celebrate their win. AFP photoCroatia’s center-left opposition coalition won an outright majority in general elections at the weekend, officials results based on count of votes at more than 99 percent of polling stations showed yesterday.
The coalition led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) will have 80 deputies in the new 151-seat parliament, results of Sunday’s vote released by the electoral commission showed. The former ruling conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) will have 47 MPs, according to national television calculations. The HDZ, tarnished by a series of top level corruption scandals, has been in power almost continuously since Croatia’s 1991 break-up of the former Yugoslavia, except for an almost four year period from 2000 to 2003. Meanwhile, current Prime Minister and HDZ head Jadranka Kosor conceded her party’s defeat but estimated its electoral result was “good under the circumstances.”
The new government, which will lead the country into the European Union in 2013, is facing the difficult challenge of tackling a serious economic crisis. Croatia’s economy has been in almost unrelieved recession since 2009. The national bank predicts a modest 0.5 percent growth this year. The likely prime minister and SDP head Zoran Milanovic, who refrained from inflated electoral promises during the campaign, vowed not to let Croatians down. “Croatian citizens showed confidence in us, have given us a chance to lead Croatia and our responsibility is enormous,” the 45-year-old Milanovic said in his victory speech in the capital early yesterday. “”We will not let you down, I promise.”
Center-left wins in Slovenia
A center-left party led by a prominent businessman and mayor nabbed a surprise victory in Slovenian parliamentary elections on Dec. 4, reflecting mounting concern among voters over the economy in the small EU country.
Positive Slovenia, the party led by the former head of the country’s largest retailer and mayor of the capital, Ljubljana, took 28.5 percent of the vote that is not enough to form a government on its own, according to nearly complete results. The favored conservatives were trailing with 26.3 percent. In winning Slovenia’s first snap election since becoming independent from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Positive Slovenia will have to tackle the country’s mounting debt, unemployment and a looming recession.
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.