//In the Spotlight: The First Round of the Croatian Presidential Elections in Three Minutes
Featured title picture: Zoran Milanović, winner of the first round in the Croatian Presidential election 2019. Photo credit: SDP Hrvatske (www.flickr.com/photos/sdphrvatske/) on Flickr (shorturl.at/ckCLY) with Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

In the Spotlight: The First Round of the Croatian Presidential Elections in Three Minutes

The first round of the presidential elections in Croatia has come to an end. In case you have been busy with the Christmas holiday preparations and are looking for a simple summary of the results and their consequences without needing to read lengthy analysis, you’re in luck. Europe Elects condensed all the relevant info into a summary of 100 words:

The first round of voting for the Croatian presidential election was held on the 22nd of December. Despite a dramatic campaign, which up to the voting day showed no clear favourite, the second round is set to be a familiar matchup between centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ-EPP) and centre-left Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP-S&D). HDZ is represented by the incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović who, despite her incumbency, came second to former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović of the SDP. It was a tight endeavour, Milanović only coming first with 29.9% of the vote to Grabar-Kitarović’s 27.0%. A nominally independent Miroslav Škoro (*-ECR) narrowly came third with 24.8% of the vote.

If you have slightly more time and interest, here’s the same with more context, in 400 words:

On the 22nd of December, the first round of voting for the Croatian presidential election was held. Despite a dramatic campaign, which up to voting day showed no clear favourite, the second round is set to be a classic matchup between centre-right HDZ (EPP) and centre-left SDP (S&D). HDZ is represented by the incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović who, despite her incumbency, came second to former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović of the SDP. It was a tight endeavour, Milanović only coming first with 29.9% of the vote to Grabar-Kitarović’s 27.0%.

Not far behind came Miroslav Škoro (*-ECR), a popular folk singer and a former member of parliament who ended up with 24.8%. Though nominally independent, his campaign was supported by several conservative parties of the ECR group in the European Parliament. While the result is not a bad one for a complete outsider, Škoro and his supporters were hoping for much more, and for much of the campaign period he was perceived as the candidate with the most momentum. Just days before the election and after a debate performance, which was judged as very poor by the press, that momentum seemed to run out.

Meanwhile, Milanović’s momentum only grew over the course of the campaign, leading to him ending up with a result far better than most could have expected. Most polls put his support around 25% and only once did he poll at 29%, while for most of the pre-election period he trailed Grabar-Kitarović (HDZ-EPP) by some margin. The final result can be considered an important victory for the Croatia’s troubled centre-left SDP, which has been in opposition since Milanović’s unpopular premiership was voted out in 2015 and replaced by the centre-right HDZ.

The regional breakdown shows a very familiar story: The left-leaning northwestern counties turning out overwhelmingly for Milanović and more conservative regions in south and east for Grabar-Kitarović and Škoro (*-ECR), respectively. Turnout surged much more in regions won by Milanović and Škoro, which does not bode well for Grabar-Kitarović in the second round as it may indicate a lack of enthusiasm from her voters.

While it may seem Škoro turned out to be a regional candidate, he did in the end come ahead of Grabar-Kitarović in the country’s capital Zagreb as well as amongst the Croatian diaspora in Germany, Australia, Canada, and the United States. Milanović nonetheless dominated both Zagreb and the other major urban centres of Rijeka and Split as well as the most developed regions in Croatia, namely Istria and Zagorje.

Featured title picture: Zoran Milanović, winner of the first round in the Croatian Presidential election 2019.
Photo credit: SDP Hrvatske on Flickr with Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Luka has been a part of Europe Elects since May 2019. He studies Economics and History at the University of Glasgow and works as a freelance journalist with a focus on Eastern Europe and Central Asia