“We are counting on this government to take us into the EU and take us out of the crisis”. Those were one of the first comments after the first unofficial election results were announced in Zagreb on Sunday, December 4. The elections put an end to the 8-year long hegemony of the right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) led by incumbent Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and brought the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SDP) led by Zoran Milanovic, which has so far been in power for just one mandate since Croatia gained its independence 20 years ago.
“We are starting to work, we may make some mistakes, but we should not stop,” were Milanovic’s first words, after the State Elections Commission announced the first results from the vote late on Sunday. The results showed that the Kukuriku coalition, led by SDP, had won 78 seats, while HDZ received 45 in the local parliament. “We are entering the EU, I want to thank all who helped this to happen, all the government and the one that will step into office. Our entry will be a great challenge, but also a chance for a small country like ours to prove itself, a chance to build and to be successful, to develop our self esteem, to respect ourselves, but also to be respected,” Milanovic also said.
Jadranka Kosor was able to bring the EU entry talks to a successful end and on Friday the country will sign its accession treaty. Despite her efforts, however, she could convince the voters that they were made for the better of the whole country. Apparently disappointed from the election results, she declined to greet the opposition for its victory, while the premier to be, Zoran Milanovic, greeted both his opponents and the unexpected winner in the elections in neighbouring Slovenia – Zoran Jankovic.
Against all expectations and forecasts, the former mayor of Ljubljana, who was born in Serbia and who stood as an independent candidate, but was backed by leftist formations, managed to outrun Janez Jansa, who was seen as the winner in those elections. According to unofficial results, Jankovic’s party Positive Slovenia has won 29% of the votes, that is 29 seats in the 100-seat Parliament, while Jansa’s Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) has got 28.5% or 28 seats. According to Jankovic, he managed to win the elections after he has proved himself as a successful businessman (before becoming a mayor, he was CEO of the country’s largest supermarket chain) and also as a successful mayor of Ljubljana afterwards.
“The voters showed that they wanted a new Slovenia, a successful and committed to social solidarity one. A Slovenia without scandals, a state where the judiciary can be trusted,” Jankovic told his supporters late on Sunday. It was the scandals that led to a serious political crisis in the back light of the already existing economic crisis that made the incumbent Prime Minister Borut Pahor to resign a year earlier, after losing a confidence vote.
Thus the main task before the new government will be to bring political and economic stability. Just a few days before the elections, the statistics data showed the country was getting closer to a recession, after both its production output and its economy as a whole shrank in the third quarter of the year. Another serious problem is growing public debt, which in 2007, when Slovenia joined the eurozone was 23.4% of the gross domestic product (GDP), while under the European Commission's latest forecasts it will reach 45% of GDP in 2011 and 50.1% of GDP next year, respectively. And although Slovenia’s population slightly exceeds 2 million, Europe undoubtedly does not need another member to be saved form the consequences of the debt crisis.