Zoran Milanović

Zoran Milanović is a Croatian politician, leader of the centre-left Social Democratic Party of Croatia and the current Prime Minister of Croatia, having taken office on 23 December 2011.

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Zoran Milanović (pronounced [zǒran milǎːnoʋitɕ]; born 30 October 1966) is a Croatian politician, leader of the centre-left Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP) and the current Prime Minister of Croatia, having taken office on 23 December 2011.

Early life

His father Stipe and mother Gina have roots in Sinj. Zoran has a brother named Krešimir. He attended the Center for Management and Judiciary (an elite high-school). By his own admission, he was very lively and prone to fighting.[2] In 1986 he entered the University of Zagreb to study law. Apart from his native Croatian, he speaks English, French and Russian.

After college, he became an intern at the Croatian Trade Court, and in 1993 got a job in the Croatian Foreign Ministry, ironically being employed by future political rival Ivo Sanader. A year later, he went to Nagorno-Karabakh as part of a United Nations peace mission.[3]

In 1994, he married Sanja Musić with whom he later had two sons, Ante and Marko.[4][5] In 1996 he became an advisor at Croatian mission to the European Union and NATO at Brussels. He returned to the Foreign Ministry in 1999, at the end of his mandate.

Election as party leader

In 1999, he joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as he had not yet been an official member. Following SDP's win in the 2000 elections, he was given responsibility for liaison with NATO, three years later he became assistant to Foreign Minister Tonino Picula. He left his post after the 2003 elections when the conservative Croatian Democratic Union came to power.

He was elected to SDP's Chief Committee in 2004. Two years later, he briefly became party spokesman, standing in for absent Gordana Grbić. He was also elected coordinator for the fourth electoral district in the 2007 elections.

An extraordinary Party convention was held in Zagreb on 2 June 2007, due to the 11 April resignation of the first Party President and Croatia's former Prime Minister Ivica Račan. Milanović entered the contest, despite being considered an "outsider", because of his shorter term in the party, running against Željka Antunović (acting Party President since Račan's resignation), Milan Bandić and Tonino Picula. On 29 September 2007, during the campaign for party president, he publicly promised to resign and never to seek presidency of the party again, if party didn't win more seats that HDZ in next elections.[6] In the first round he led with 592, well ahead of his nearest rival Željka Antunović.[7] In the second round, he faced Antunović and again won by a large margin, thereby becoming president of the party.

The 2007 parliamentary election turned out to be the closest election since independence with SDP winning 56 seats, only 10 mandates short of HDZ's 66. 5 seats that HDZ had won were from the eleventh district reserved for citizens living abroad, which was one of the main campaign issues of SDP which sought to decrease electoral significance of the so called diaspora voters. The resulting close race left both sides in a position to form a government, provided they gather 77 of the 153 representatives. After the election, Sanader seemed to be in a better position to form a cabinet which caused Milanović to controversially make himself the candidate for Prime Minister over the less popular Ljubo Jurčić, despite not consulting the party's Main Committee.[8] However, the Social Democrats remained in the Opposition, since Ivo Sanader managed to form a majority coalition.

After losing the hotly contested general elections, Milanović did not resign as party leader, despite promising before the election that he would, should the party loose.[6] In the 2007 election, despite the loss, SDP emerged with the largest parliamentary caucus in their history and achieved their best result yet. Milanović seemed to be in a good position to remain party leader and announced he would run for a first full term as party leader. In the 2008 leadership election he faced Davorko Vidović and Dragan Kovačević, but emerged as the winner with almost 80 percent of the delegate vote.

Leader of the Opposition

With 56 seats won SDP emerged from the 2007 election as the second largest party in Parliament and the largest party that is not a part of the governing majority. This made Milnović the unofficial Leader of the Opposition. Milanović was very critical of the Sanader administration, especially concerning their handling of the economy and the fight against corruption.

In September 2008, Milanović made a highly-publicized visit to Bleiburg, Austria to commemorate the Bleiburg massacre.[9] This made him the second leader of the Social Democratic Party of Croatia to visit the site, the first being Ivica Račan.

The 2009 local elections were held on 17 and 31 May and resulted with the Social Democrats making considerable gains in certain traditionally HDZ-leaning cities and constituencies, such as Dubrovnik, Šibenik, Trogir and Vukovar, as well as retaining such major traditionally SDP-leaning cities as Zagreb and Rijeka.[10]

On 1 July 2009, Ivo Sanader announced he was resigning the Premiership and leaving his deputy Jadranka Kosor as Prime Minister. Parliament approved her and the new Cabinet which made Kosor the first woman ever to be appointed Prime Minister.[11] Ever since late 2008, SDP had been leading the polls, however by a narrow margin. After the sudden resignation of Sanader HDZ plummeted in the polls to their lowest level since 1999 when corruption scandals were rocking the party establishment.[12] Milanović insisted the resignation of the Prime Minister means that an early general election was necessary. The governing majority refused to dissolve Parliament and insisted that the Kosor cabinet would finish the remainder of its term.

In 2008 the country's accession to the European Union was deadlocked with the Slovenian blockade over a border dispute. Sanader and his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor were unable to settle their differences in the following months which meant Croatian's accession to the European Union was in a standstill. There was much speculation, since Sanader hadn't given a reason for his departure, whether the Slovenian blockade was the cause for his resignation. In the following months Kosor and Pahor met several times, trying to resolve the border dispute. The negotiations resulted in an agreement which led to the continuation of negotiations for the Croatian accession to the European Union. The solution was an Arbitration Agreement[13] which was signed in Stockholm on 4 November 2009, by both countries' Prime Ministers and the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.[14] The agreement required a two-thirds majority in Parliament if it were to be aproved. Milanović and most SDP MPs voted in favor of the agreement, however he criticized the Government and especially its former and present leaders, Sanader and Kosor, for wasting precious time since the arrangement with Slovenia could have been made a year earlier and Croatia wouldn't have waited so long to continue with the accession process.[15]

The 2008 economic meltdown hit most European countries hard, as well as Croatia. The crisis continued throughout the following years. Industry shed tens of thousands of jobs, and unemployment soared. Consumer spending reduced drastically compared to record 2007 levels, causing widespread problems in the trade as well as transport industries. The continuing declining standard resulted in a quick fall in both the Prime Minister's as well as government's support. Milanović was very critical of the Government's supposed slow response and inadequate measures that did little to revive the economy. The recession and high unemployment continued throughout 2011 resulting in many anti-government protests around the country.[16]

On 28 October MPs voted to dissolve Parliament.[17] President of the Republic Ivo Josipović agreed to a dissolution of Sabor on Monday, 31 October and scheduled the election, as previously suspected, for Sunday, December 4, 2011.[18] The 2011 parliamentary election saw SDP joining three other left-wing parties to create the media-dubbed Kukuriku coalition with Milanović at the helm. Kukuriku won the election with an absolute majority of 81 seats. The election was the first in which rival HDZ was not the leading individual party in Parliament.

Prime Minister

Milanović's approval rating since becoming Prime Minister, conducted by Ipsos Puls

Milanović presented his cabinet to Parliament on 23 December, 19 days after the election. The discussion resulted with 89 members, 81 Kukuriku and 8 national minority MPs, voting in favour of the Milanović cabinet.[19] The transition to power occurred the following evening when Jadranka Kosor welcomed Milanović to the government's official meeting place, Banski dvori, opposite the Sabor building on St. Mark's Square and handed him the necessary papers and documents.[20]

By taking office at the age of 45, Zoran Milanović became the youngest Prime Minister since Croatia's independence.[21] In addition, his cabinet also became the youngest, with an average minister's age being 48.[21] Cabinet members came from three out of the four parties of the winning coalition, leaving only the single-issue Croatian Party of Pensioners (HSU) without representation.


  1. "Milanović: Kršten sam i oženjen u crkvi, ali vjernik nisam. Kao i svaki čovjek, tragam za smislom" (in Croatian). Jutarnji list. 4 June 2011. http://www.jutarnji.hr/zoran-milanovic---intervju--krsten-sam-i-ozenjen-u-crkvi--ali-vjernik-nisam--/950779/. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  2. Javno – Hrvatska
  3. Zoran Milanović – Biografija
  4. "Biografija: Zoran Milanović" (in Croatian). 2 June 2007. http://dalje.com/hr-hrvatska/biografija--zoran-milanovic/49361. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  5. Premijerova supruga samozatajna je liječnica i majka
  6. http://www.24sata.hr/politika/milanovic-obecao-ostavku-ako-ne-pobijedi-sanadera-61860
  7. Marijana Zrinjski; Goran Jurić (2 June 2007). "Uskoro rezultati izbora za predsjednika SDP-a [SDP presidency election results to follow soon]" (in Croatian). Nacional (weekly). Archived from the original on 30 June 2012. http://www.nacional.hr/articles/view/34990/. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  8. Decision Was Supposed To Be Made By Main Committee
  9. Milanović na Bleiburgu: 'Ja sam tu zbog žrtava, a ne zbog propalih režima', Dnevnik.hr
  10. Martina Čizmić (15 June 2009). "Ponovljeni izbori: SDP dobio Šibenik i Trogir [Repeated vote: SDP wins Šibenik and Trogir]" (in Croatian). Nacional. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. http://www.nacional.hr/clanak/60145/ponovljeni-izbori-sdp-dobio-sibenik-i-trogir. Retrieved 2 December 2009. (Croatian)
  11. "Croatia's PM Sanader resigns, quits politics". Reuters. 1 July 2009. http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-40733720090701. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  12. "Nikad veća razlika: SDP 'potukao' HDZ" (in Croatian). Nova TV. 1 August 2009. http://dnevnik.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/sokantni-rezultati-istrazivanja-sdp-potukao-hdz.html. Retrieved 2 December 2009.(Croatian)
  13. "Premiers Kosor, Pahor say two countries at watershed, politics must find solutions". Government of Croatia. 2009-10-26. http://www.vlada.hr/en/naslovnica/novosti_i_najave/2009/listopad/predsjednica_vlade_s_predsjednikom_vlade_republike_slovenije_borutom_pahorom. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
  14. "Croatia, Slovenia open new chapter in their relations, PMs say". Government of Croatia. 2009-11-04. http://www.vlada.hr/en/naslovnica/novosti_i_najave/2009/studeni/predsjednica_vlade_rh_kosor_i_predsjednik_slovenske_vlade_pahor_otvorena_nova_stranica_u_odnosima_dviju_zemalja. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
  15. Sabor izglasao Sporazum o arbitraži, SDP 'aktivno suzdržan', Dnevnik.hr
  16. Rastrgali zastavu HDZ-a, zapalili SDP-ovu i EU-a, Novi list
  17. "Pogledajte sve snimke sa suđenja Sanaderu". Dnevnik.hr. 2011-10-28. http://dnevnik.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/ovo-su-bili-najzanimljiviji-trenuci-u-saboru.html. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
  18. "Predsjednik Josipović raspisao izbore!". Odluka2011.dnevnik.hr. 2011-10-31. http://odluka2011.dnevnik.hr/clanak/vijesti/predsjednik-josipovic-raspisao-izbore.html. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
  19. Pogledajte kako je izglasano povjerenje Vladi!
  20. Kosor s velikim brošem HDZ-a Milanoviću predala vlast: Idemo probati biti uspješni
  21. Toma, Ivanka (22 December 2011). "Milanovićevih 21 - Najmlađi premijer, najmlađa vlada" (in Croatian). Večernji list (Zagreb). http://www.vecernji.hr/vijesti/milanovicevih-21-najmladi-premijer-najmlada-vlada-clanak-359295. Retrieved 23 December 2011.