Croatian Presidential Elections 2019-2020

Presidential elections held in Croatia on 22 December 2019 (first round) were the seventh presidential elections since Croatian independence in 1991. The presidential elections ended on 5 January 2020 in the second round with Zoran Milanović as the winner with a relative majority of 52.66% of the vote. Milanović defeated the conservative incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who received 47.34% of the vote. This was a disappointment for her party, the Croatian Democratic Union (Hrvatska demokratska zajednica, HDZ), especially because of the upcoming intra-party and parliamentary elections. Milanović, a member of the main center-left political party in Croatia, the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (Socijaldemokratska partija Hrvatske, or SDP), and who had previously served as Prime Minister of Croatia (2011-2016), become the 5th president of Croatia. Western media acclaimed social democrat Zoran Milanović’s election victory as a victory for the “left”. However, it is more likely a win for the “new extreme center” in Croatia, keeping in mind that during his premiership he “…implemented neoliberal reform of labor law severely slashing workers’ rights, introduced a controversial bankruptcy settlement law, and led a final phase of large-scale privatization of public infrastructure and resources”. This analysis will show why Milanović’s victory must be seen primarily as a consequence of fear on the part of Croatian civil society, who chose the “lesser evil” in order to defend itself from the growing and radicalizing right.

Katarina Peović

Katarina Peović

Katarina Peović is Assistant Professor at Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Cultural Studies in Rijeka. She holds a BA and masters degree in Comparative literature and MA and PhD of Faculty of Philosophy Zagreb. She is a member of leftist political party Worker’s Front. She participated at the city council in Zagreb and was a candidate for the 2019 Croatian Presidential Election.


Southeastern Europe