Croatia faces close poll in shadow of virus
Croatia’s two main parties are neck-and-neck in polls before tomorrow’s parliamentary election, which will be dominated by concerns about coronavirus and its impact on an economy that relies heavily on tourism.
Surveys give both the ruling conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Restart alliance led by the centre-left Social Democrats (SDP) between 25 and 30 per cent, well clear of the nationalist Homeland Movement that could be a kingmaker for the new government.
Prime minister Andrej Plenkovic (50) hailed Croatia’s reopening to holidaymakers last month as evidence of the HDZ government’s competent handling of the coronavirus outbreak, and a positive sign for a country whose travel industry accounts for about one- fifth of gross domestic product.
A spike in infections has fuelled fears of a resurgence, and yesterday the country of 4.2 million reported 96 new cases – equalling the record daily rise of April 1st. Officials say 3,008 people in Croatia have been confirmed with the virus, and 112 have died.
SDP leader Davor Bernardic (40) has accused Mr Plenkovic of endangering public health by calling the election during a pandemic. Mr Plenkovic argues that Mr Bernardic does not have the experience to guide Croatia through such a difficult period.
“This is not the time for political
charlatanry . . . nor for those who are inexperienced and whose programme is a kind of wish list, without any real budgetary or political basis,” he said. “Right now we have a slightly increased number of infections but, like elsewhere in the world, in the time ahead we will need to balance between protecting public health and maintaining the economy and tourism.”
Neither main party is expected to secure a majority, and they rule out forming a “grand coalition” together.
Andrej Plenkovic: ‘This is not the time for political charlatanry’