Croatia. In the European Parliament elections on May 26, the ruling right-wing party of the Democratic Democratic Union (HDZ) became the largest party with 22.7% of the vote, giving four seats – a decline compared to the 2014 election. The Socialist opposition party SDP received 18.7% and three seats (could be four mandates if and when the UK leaves the EU). The four remaining mandates joined a mandate was for the Amsterdam Coalition, which is a group of liberal parties, populist party Živi zid, Croatian sovereigns and finally an independent candidate, Mislav Kolakušić.
Croatia still has major corruption problems. In early February, the former Chief of the Police Department for Organized Crime, Željko Dolački, was sentenced to six years in prison for theft of gold and cash from the Zagreb police headquarters. He was also sentenced to a fine of SEK 4.5 million. When the crime was discovered in 2016, among other things, the national police chief was forced to resign. Neither the money nor the gold has been found. In April, the penalty for Ivo Sanader, the country’s prime minister 2003–09, was sharpened. He was now given six years in prison for having received bribes of SEK 20 million as prime minister.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of HRV in general and in geography as Croatia in particular.
In July, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was forced to retire in the government precisely because of corruption problems. Several ministers have been forced to resign on suspicion of fraudulent real estate deals. Plenković chose to re-furnish the government for next year’s elections and the fact that Croatia will become EU President in the first half of 2020.
The government’s plans to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 from 2033 encountered great resistance during the year. In June, trade unions filed 740,000 signatures with a request for a referendum on the matter. There was more than twice the number required for a referendum. Croatia has the same problems as so many other countries with an aging population.
In October, the European Commission announced that Croatia now meets the requirements for accession to the Schengen Agreement, which means free movement within the 22 states of Europe that are part of the Schengen area. However, other member states must approve it. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker praised Croatia for having adapted to the EU in areas such as judicial cooperation, visa management and data protection.
In mid-November, the government announced the announcement of presidential elections until December 22, with a possible second round on January 5, 2020. Sitting President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and former Social Democratic Prime Minister Zoran Milanović were the heaviest names. Both went on to the second round – Grabar-Kitarović got 26.7% of the vote while Milanović got 29.56%. On January 1, 2020, Croatia will take over the EU’s rotating presidency.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Croatia in 2019 was 4,130,193, ranking number 130 in the world. The population growth rate was -0.630% yearly, and the population density was 73.8081 people per km2.
Demography and economic geography. – Southern European state, located in the north-western sector of the Balkan peninsula. The 2011 census confirmed the slow and steady demographic decline recorded in previous censuses, with a population passing from 4,437,460 residents in 2001 to 4,284,889 in 2011, the result of a natural increase of −2.3 ‰ and a migration rate that remains negative (−1.43 ‰ in 2014). Consequently, the average age of the population (4,272,044 in 2014, according to an estimate by UNDESA, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) is quite high, with 24% of individuals over 60 years of age. The urban population constitutes 58% of the total, with the capital, Zagreb, which continues to be the only large urban center, whose population in the agglomeration is 793,057 residents (2012); other centers of moderate entity are Spalato (167,121 residents) and Rijeka (128,384 residents). The ethnic composition of the population has remained virtually unchanged since 2001: Croats represent 90.4% of the total, while the Serbian minority is around 4.4%.
Economic conditions. – Croatia is one of the economically most prosperous countries among those born from the dissolution of Yugoslavia; in the first years of the new millennium it experienced a very sustained growth, thanks also to numerous direct foreign investments and by international organizations. However, following the global economic crisis, in 2009 the Croatia entered a phase of recession that continues to this day (GDP still recorded a decline of 0.8% in 2014), with an alarming unemployment rate (16, 8% in 2014). The Croatian economy depends to a large extent on services, which contribute to 68% of GDP: among these, we note tourism, which registers significant flows (10,369,000 entries in 2012) and which has contributed in the past years to an enhancement of motorway and railway infrastructures. Industry also maintains a leading role (26.3% of GDP), particularly in the shipbuilding, steel, metallurgical, chemical and petrochemical sectors. Despite this, Croatia is a country heavily dependent on imports, especially agricultural products and energy resources (the trade balance in 2013 recorded a negative value of $ 9068 million). The main trading partners are, for imports, Germany, Italy and Slovenia; for exports, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany and Slovenia. After joining NATO in 2009, in 2013 Croatia became part of the EU, an event that led to greater pressure on the Croatian government to reduce public debt (67.1% of GDP) and the deficit of budget (−4.9% in 2013), whose values do not fall within the convergence criteria required for the adoption of the euro. Regarding disputes with neighboring countries for the definition of coastal borders, in 2009 Croatia signed a treaty with Slovenia aimed at establishing an international arbitration that should have redeemed the ten-year question relating to access by Slovenia to international waters, through a shift of the land and sea border between the two countries.