Croatia. In the presidential election that took place on
January 11, after a first round of voting before the New
Year, unexpectedly Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović won with just
over 50% of the vote. She was a candidate for the
Conservative opposition party HDZ (Croatian Democratic
Union). That the long-time favorite tipped President Ivo
Josipović was voted off was assumed to be because he
represented the center-left government which was far less
popular than himself. Grabar-Kitarović, who was previously
Foreign Minister and Deputy Secretary-General of NATO,
became the country's first female head of state. The
President has limited power in Croatia.
COUNTRYAAH, the Constitutional Court overturned two corruption
convictions in July and ordered a new trial against former
Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, who was sentenced to multi-year
imprisonment. A new trial began in September, but the
Constitutional Court ordered him to be released, which
happened at the end of November.
From mid-September, Croatia became a transit country for
the huge influx of refugees who were heading north through
the Balkan Peninsula. After Hungary closed its border with
Serbia, many began to move from Serbia to Croatia instead.
Prime Minister Zoran Milanović first said that the refugees
were welcome and that their journey through the country
would go well. But almost immediately several thousand
people came a day and the situation became difficult to
handle. Crossings to Serbia were closed and Hungary began to
build barbed wire fences against Croatia as well. In a
couple of months, over 300,000 refugees passed through
Croatia and the situation was often chaotic.
When parliamentary elections were held in November, the
two major blocs were basically leveled, but neither side was
given enough mandate to form government on their own. The
Patriotic Coalition, dominated by HDZ, got slightly more
mandate than the government alliance Croatia grows, the
largest party of which was the Social Democrats. The
election's big surprise was the election platform MOST,
which became the third largest party. MOST had been
established in 2012 as a regional party and had largely
members who had not been politically active before.
Government formation was not complete by the end of the