One of the most surprising aspects of the recent Croatian parliamentary elections held on July 5th, 2020 was the unexpected success of the Možemo! coalition of few smaller parties leaning to the new-left and green end of political compass. Although Možemo! gained only 7 mandates out of the total of 151 parliamentary seats, their success indicated that a movement based on grassroots activism and fight for green policies, feminism, workers‘ rights and anti-corruption agenda can be viable not only in Croatia, but also in other countries in the region such as Serbia.
One of the leaders of Možemo! coalition who gained a large share of preferential votes is Tomislav Tomasević, who also works as a coordinator for the Institute of Political Ecology in Zagreb, our partner organization in Croatia. We have catched up with him a few days after the election to talk about the causes of Možemo’s success and their further strategy.
How did the Croatian public and media react to your electoral success?
Croatian public and media reacted very positively to the electoral success of green-left coalition consisting of 6 green and left parties including Možemo! Our coalition is definitely the biggest surprise of these parliamentary elections and there is a great sense of hope among our supporters and voters although the new government will be formed by HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union), a conservative party burdened by many corruption scandals. The week following elections was so crazy in terms of media and public interest that it was actually more demanding than the last week of electoral campaign.
Could you describe the key factors that led to this result?
It is hard to tell or otherwise everybody would know the formula. My guess would be that we showed to the voters that we are consistent in struggles for various public and common goods in the past few decades so that they could trust us that we will walk the talk unlike many other politicians who changed their parties in the last parliament composition - more than one fifth of MPs did this in the last four years. Also it was probably the very positive electoral campaign that we led which sparked some optimism in this post-earthquake and post-corona Zagreb and Croatia.
Who makes the core of your voters? Was the success of Možemo only a matter of Zagreb and other urban centers, or was the electorate more evenly distributed through the country?
According to some of the first polls it was mostly highly educated people who voted for our green-left coalition. Also what is really good news is that a lot of young people voted for us and many of them went to vote for the first time in their lives. It is not only Zagreb and urban centers where we had good results, but also some small towns and even islands. We had poorer result only in the Eastern Croatia when we look at the whole country.
Do you think that the elections results can galvanize other similar movements and parties in the wider region?
I certainly hope and believe that this will galvanize similar movements in the wider region. Initiative “Ne davimo Beograd” is on the right track to achieve something similar in Serbia. I also hope for success of similar initiatives in other countries of the region. Možemo! and the whole coalition have great potential for political growth on national level as only now we have resources to build serious political organizations across the country. Also we are preparing for local elections which are due in May next year, especially in Zagreb where I will contend the current mayor who is in power for past 20 years.
Can the Možemo coalition (or the new left parties in general) in long-term timeframe replace the Social Democrats (SDP) or other competitors? Are the values of leftist voters still the same, or is there some change?
This will also depend on SDP and other political actors. We have a clear vision of becoming modern, fresh, green and left option for the 21st century. We are not very concerned or focused on what other political players are doing and how they will position themselves in terms of ideology and methodology.
Nevertheless, the elections were won by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). What are your predictions regarding further political development in this electoral cycle?
It will not be easy for them and I do not expect that the new government will survive the full term of four years. There are great challenges ahead regarding social, economic, epidemic and environmental crisis and HDZ now with almost single-party majority holds full responsibility for all future decisions. We will be fierce but also constructive opposition. This time, new-old prime minister Plenković cannot hide from responsibility blaming it on various fractions within his own party or other ruling coalition parties.
What kind of agenda will Možemo! focus on in the parliament? Have you already made some steps?
We will focus on political values of social justice, ecological sustainability, deeper democracy and gender equality. On transformation to green and robust economy, decreasing social inequalities and greater democracy especially at local level. One of the first laws which we will work on will be the law on reconstruction of Zagreb after the devastating earthquake which happened in March this year. In the beginning, we will also focus on laws related to taxation reform, workers’ rights and women’s rights.