Croatia’s Ruling Left-Wing Coalition Tied with Conservative Opposition in General Election – Exit PollSoutheast Europe | November 8, 2015, Sunday // 22:34| views
The Croatian Parliament building in Zagreb. Photo source: wikipedia.org
Croatia’s ruling center-left coalition led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has come neck-and-neck with analliance led by conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) after polls closed in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, Hina news agency reported.
According to an exit poll conducted for the HRT state broadcaster, the coalitions led by SDP and HDZ have each won 56 seats, short of outright majority, meaning whoever wins most votes will have to rely on support from several small parties that are expected to enter the 151-seat legislature.
The exit poll also suggests an alliance of independents known as Most (‘bridge’ in Croatain) will win 18 seats which makes it a likely holder of the balance of power. Most, however, had suggested before the vote it would not join forces with either of the main coalitions in the new parliament.
Croatia’s first parliamentary election since the country joined the EU in 2013 has been overshadowed by the migrant crisis in Europe.
More than 300,000 refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa have crossed the country of 4.2 million since the middle of September en route to wealthier countries of northern and western Europe.
If conservatives return to power and implement tough restrictions against the migrant influx, the flow of tens of thousands of refugees crossing the Balkans could be disrupted, AP noted in its news coverage of the election results.
A soft stand on migrants and signs of economic recovery have helped Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and SDP win support among many Croats who themselves remember the woes of displacement and war during the break-up of the former Yugoslav Federation in the 1990s.
HDZ, which had steered Croatia to independence from Yugoslavia, accuses the SDP-led coalition of being too compassionate on migrants, who have been arriving at a rate of 5,000 per day from Serbia.
The Croatian Interior Ministry has said that there are around 30,000 migrants who would start coming to the Croatian border from Greece via Serbia on Sunday night after Greek sailors ended their strike.
Greek ferries have resumed shuttles between Creece’s mainland and the country’s Aegean islands where migrants and refugees, most of them from war-torn Syria, arrive by boat from Turkey.