19:13 / 17.05.2021.

Author: Katja Miličić

Leftist-green Možemo! sweeps Zagreb

Tomislav Tomašević celebrates with his Možemo colleagues as election returns are announced (Photo: Sanjin Strukic/PIXSELL)

Tomislav Tomašević celebrates with his Možemo colleagues as election returns are announced (Photo: Sanjin Strukic/PIXSELL)

Foto: - / Pixsell

Croatians voted in local elections Sunday, dealing a major blow to the county's traditional center-right and center-left parties in the capital.

The leftist-green candidate Tomislav Tomašević and his activists-turned political platform Možemo! swept the mayoral race and the city assembly.

"We are going to win in two weeks with our heads held high and able to look everyone in the eye. I encourage all our citizens to take just one more step for Zagreb. Thank you everyone and let's go claim that victory!" Tomašević said at his campaign headquarters late Sunday evening.

With 45% of the vote, Tomašević narrowly missed the mark to avoid a run-off. On May 30, he will face Miroslav Škoro from the Homeland Movement, who with 12% of the vote barely squeezed ahead of Milan Bandić's successor Jelena Pavičić Vukičević. While left-leaning voters overwhelmingly went for Tomašević, the right was split between several candidates, including the HDZ’s candidate Davor Filipović and Most’s Zvonimir Troskot. Škoro's chances will depend on whether he can motivate conservatives who did not vote for him. His election night remarks signalled his strategy will be to try to unite the right.

"We will stand up to the onslaught of the left, which is looking to capture Zagreb. They are neither green nor just leftist. They are extreme leftists and we will stop them in the run-off. So help me God!" he said.

The sudden death of Mayor Milan Bandić in late February radically shifted the playing field in the run up to these elections. Bandić’s successor, Jelena Vukičević Pavičić, could not rally the base and finished in third place with 11% of the vote.

The Zagreb race is expected to get more heated, as Škoro tries to rally the right by stoking their fears of the left. However, political analyst Berto Šalaj says Škoro may not get the support of the HDZ's base. HDZ leader Andrej Plenković is not too keen on overlooking the fact that Škoro was once elected to parliament on the HDZ’s ticket. More recently he has peeled off some of the HDZ’s voters after creating his own right-wing party precisely under the premise that it is an alternative to the HDZ.

Šalaj believes support for Tomašević could get even stronger in the second round.

"Tomislav Tomašević received close to 148 thousand votes in the first round. That's better than Milan Bandić did in 2009. That's excellent. It's difficult to imagine that a Tomašević voter would cast their ballot for Škoro in the run-off," Šalaj says noting that even with all 9% of the vote that the HDZ’s Filipović received, it would still not be enough to beat Tomašević.

Political analyst Damir Jugo also says Škoro's unite the right strategy may do more to motivate the left than rally the right.

"He's doing the only thing he can do and that's try to stoke ideological divisions. As he does this and tries to drive the campaign in that direction, he might end up rallying Možemo!'s voters even more," Jugo says.

Možemo! also won 23 seats in the City Assembly, one short of a majority but with the support of the Social Democrats they are in the driver’s seat.

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