The past 12 months in the region saw the formation of four new governments and an election of a new president.
The 2020 electoral cycle began with the second round of Croatia’s presidential election on January 5, in which Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, a conservative who won the presidency in 2015, lost to former social-democratic ex-prime minister Zoran Milanović. He vowed to heal divisions and said his victory had brought “hope and faith”. Milanović beat Grabar-Kitarović by 53% to 47%. Croatia’s president has a role in foreign policy and security matters but the prime minister runs the country.
After the resignation of previous prime minister Marjan Šarec in January 2020, Slovenia’s SDS formed a new center-right government headed by its leader Janez Janša. SDS is the largest parliamentary party and formed a broad coalition with the center-right Nova Slovenia party, liberal Modern Centre party, and senior citizen party DESUS. Janša is an experienced politician who has already served as prime minister from 2004 to 2008 and 2012 to 2013. The priority of Janša’s government throughout the year has been to control and contain the spread and impact of the COVID-19 epidemic. The government has formed a crisis unit and adopted numerous measures to help both the economy and the healthcare sector.
North Macedonia’s former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s party scored a narrow victory over right-wing rivals in the country’s general elections in July this year. Zaev’s Social Democrats returned to power after parliament approved their new coalition at the end of August that ended a months-long leadership void amid the pandemic. Zaev’s governing coalition, a tie-up with the largest party representing the ethnic Albanian minority, pledged to tackle the pandemic and its economic effects, as well as make progress on EU accession talks after the country officially became a candidate for membership earlier this year.
Amid ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Serbs headed to the polls in June after almost a year of continuous protests against the government’s alleged abuse of democracy, the rule of law and the freedom of the press. The governing Serbian Progressive party (SNS) of prime minister Ana Brnabić and Aleksander Vučić, the country’s president, remained uncontested, taking 62.6% of the vote in a parliamentary election, giving it a clear majority of some 190 seats. The Alliance for Serbia, the largest opposition group boycotted the election. The defining feature of the new parliament is a complete lack of opposition.
In neighbouring Montenegro, a new government took office in December, the first in almost three decades that does not include the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) led by the country’s president, Milo Đukanović. Montenegro has what is called an expert or a technocrat government, led by the new prime minster, Zdravko Krivokapić. Krivokapić, as well as almost all cabinet ministers, does not belong to any political party. The only exception is Dritan Abazović, the new deputy prime minister and leader of the United Reform Action (URA) party. This represents a huge shift for Montenegro but the strength of the new coalition that includes both the very pro-Serbian For the Future of Montenegro and the more pro-European Peace is Our Nation, is yet to be tested. While his party has moved to the opposition seats in the parliament, Djukanović remains the country’s president until 2022 when the next presidential elections are due.
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