Croatia’s ruling center-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) looks set to win the parliamentary election held on Sunday, at a time of rising coronavirus infections and a sharp economic downturn due to the pandemic, exit polls showed, according to Deutsche Welle.
HDZ was slated for 61 seats in the 151-member parliament, followed by 44 from their main rivals in a center-left coalition led by the Social Democrat Party, according to an exit poll from Ipsos agency.
The far-right Homeland Movement was projected to win 16 seats. Two smaller parties, Mozemo (We Can) and MOST (Bridge) were expected to grab eight seats each.
Support of former singer Miroslav Skoro’s far-right Homeland Movement, which is seen as a natural partner for the HDZ, could be crucial for either party to form the next government.
Opinion polls had predicted a close election race, with neither Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s HDZ nor the SDP likely to win a majority. Hoping to capitalize on what appears to be a good performance in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, Plenković moved the election a few months forward. Experts say he also wanted to hold elections before the coronavirus’ economic fallout is fully felt by the public.
Voters were advised to wear masks and stay away from the polling stations if they were feeling sick. They were also told to bring their own pen, Deutsche Welle adds.