Croatian parliamentary election, 1990

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Croatian parliamentary election, 1990
Socialist Republic of Croatia
22 April and 7 May 1990 → 1992

All 80 seats to the Social-Political Council
All 116 seats to the Municipalities Council
All 160 seats to the Associated Labour Council
  First party Second party Third party
  FranjoTudman.JPG Ivica Račan small.jpg Savka Dabcevic Kucar.jpg
Leader Franjo Tuđman Ivica Račan Savka Dabčević-Kučar
Seats won 205 107 21
Popular vote 1,201,122 1,001,967 439,372
Percentage 41.9% 35.0% 15.3%

Prime Minister before election

Antun Milović

Subsequent Prime Minister

Stjepan Mesić

Parliamentary elections were held in SR Croatia on 22 April 1990, with a second round of voting on 6 May.[1] The first free elections since multi-party politics were introduced, they resulted in a victory for the Croatian Democratic Union, which won 55 of the 80 seats of the Social-Political Council. In the first round voter turnout was 84.5%.[2]


On February 15, 1990 parliament adopted amendments LIV to LXIII of the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, as well as a series of electoral laws which allowed for the first multi-party elections in the country.[3] The form of parliament that was about to be elected remained unchanged from the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution:

  • Council of Municipalities (Vijeće općina, VO)
  • Council of Socio-Political Organisations (Društveno-političko vijeće, DPV)
  • Council of Associated Labour (Vijeće udruženog rada, VUR)

The latter represented "working people" of various professions and because of that special elections were held on Monday, allowing voters to cast their ballots at their respective workplaces.

The new electoral law, devised by Smiljko Sokol and modelled on French electoral legislation, introduced a runoff voting system. A candidate getting more than 50% would win the first round outright but failing that, all candidates winning at least 7% of the votes could enter the second round.[4] The elections were called for April 22 and 23, with a second round on May 6 and 7.

Elections for Parliament were also held in conjunction with elections for municipal assemblies (with an identical run-off voting system).


At the very start of the campaign three major blocs emerged:

Some sections of Croatia that would later become Republic of Serbian Krajina also saw emergence of Serb Democratic Party.

The electoral law and superior organisational abilities of HDZ founders gradually narrowed the contest down to only two options – SDP and HDZ. The former tried to win by describing the latter as dangerous nationalist extremists and relying on votes of ethnic Serbs. The latter very skillfully used both decades of Croatian dissatisfaction with Communism and Yugoslavia and fear of emerging Serb nationalism embodied by Slobodan Milošević.

The campaign got very heated, but was surprisingly non-violent, except in ethnically mixed areas where the first incidents (which in retrospect can be seen as the harbingers of the full-scale warfare of a year later) took place. One of such incidents happened in city of Benkovac, where an ethnic Serb attacked Franjo Tuđman during election rally.


The first results were announced in the evening of 22 April. Although the HDZ failed to win an outright majority in the first round, the number of seats won and percentage of votes made it clear that the SDP was going to lose power to the HDZ and that it was likely that the HDZ would become the governing party for some time to come. This triggered a mass defection of government officials to the HDZ.

Yet, despite this historic setback, there was relatively little change in actual percentage of votes in second round, mostly because Coalition of People's Accord candidates who had qualified refused to quit the race. This allowed SDP to win some constituencies, especially in urban, middle-class and ethnic Serb areas.

The final outcome was indisputably clear. HDZ won almost two thirds of the seats and clear mandate to push any legislative and constitutional agenda. SDP became the second largest party in Parliament. The minuscule remainder of the seats was shared by the Coalition of People's Accord, the Serb Democratic Party and a few independent candidates.

Party First round Second round Total
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Croatian Democratic Union 1,201,122 41.9 55
SKH-SDP-SSH 1,001,967 35.0 20
Coalition of People's Accord 439,372 15.3 3
Serb Democratic Party 46,418 1.6 1
Yugoslav Independent Democratic Party 13,560 0.5 0
European Green List 12,282 0.4 0
Rijeka Democratic Union 8,008 0.3 0
Other parties 23,855 0.8 0
Independents 118,147 4.1 1
Invalid/blank votes 115,852
Total 2,980,663 100 80
Source: Nohlen & Stöver
Popular vote
Overall results of the election for all three houses of parliament of the Socialist Republic of Croatia
Party Total seats
HDZ 205
KNS (HSLS, SDSH, HKDS, HDS, non-party members) 21
Independents and minorities 13
Total 351
Source: HINA[5]


The newly elected Parliament convened on 30 May, a date later celebrated as Statehood Day – a public holiday in Croatia.



  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p410 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p414
  3. ^ Davorka Budimir (2011). "Hrvatska politička elita na početku demokratske tranzicije" [Croatian political elite at the beginning of the democratic transition]. Anali Hrvatskog politološkog društva [Annals of the Croatian Political Science Association] (in Croatian) 7 (1). Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Robert Podolnjak (September 2008). "Hrvatsko izborno zakonodavstvo: moguće i nužne promjene" [Croatian electoral legislation: possible and necessary amendments]. Zbornik radova Pravnog fakulteta u Splitu (in Croatian) (University of Split, Faculty of Law) 45 (2): 305–343. ISSN 0584-9063. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Predsjednik Josipović na svečanosti u prigodi obilježavanja Dana Hrvatskog sabora i 20-te obljetnice prvog demokratskog izabranog višestranačkog Sabora RH" (in Croatian). Office of the President of Croatia. HINA. 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2011-11-18.