ESSAYS AND STUDIES
CROATIAN ELECTIONS 2020: THE END OF TWO-PARTY COMPETITION?
Since the year 2000, two large political blocs have been dominating the Croatian party system: the conservative one, rallying around the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), and the left-liberal, gathered around the Social Democratic Party. The dynamics of competition between these two groups indicates the basic political cleavage that lies on a single-dimensional Left-Right divide. The third options sometimes managed to break bipartisanship, at least in the short term, and to achieve relatively good election results. However, in the medium term, these breakthroughs have been largely unsuccessful, with third parties quickly blending into dominant bipartisan divide, resulting in a stable two-party competition. Until recently, the poor results of the populist right also contributed significantly to the stability of competition, since the dominant HDZ successfully covered that part of the ideological spectrum, largely because of its own nationalist heritage. HDZ thus held the positions of center-right party and populist-nationalist movement in parallel, effectively preventing the development of any viable anti-establishment option. The results of 2019/2020 presidential election signaled a change: for the first time, a far right-challenger (in this case, an independent candidate Miroslav Škoro) managed to win over twenty percent of the vote, effectively dividing the right-wing voters and causing disruption in relatively stable dual competition. Škoro based his result on the long-term pursuit of a part of Croatian voters for the third option, as well as on a number of smaller nationalist and populist parties and movements that emerged in Croatian politics in recent years. The reaction of his voters, who did not seem to blend in the bipartisan division in the second round of election, signals a change in the dynamics of an entire party system – possibly already in the next parliamentary election, to be held in July 2020.
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