List of Presidents of Croatia

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This is a list of Heads of State of Croatia. Historically, the first republican heads of state of Croatia (then a constituent republic of the Yugoslavia) were the Presidents of the Presidium of the Croatian Parliament, an office notably distinct from the Speaker of the Parliament (Predsjednik Sabora). When the Presidium was abolished in the constitutional reforms of 1953, the position defaulted to the Presidents of the Parliament. In 1974, a new constitution brought about a collective Croatian Presidency, with the President of the Presidency as head of state of the Republic. The next constitution of 1990 abolished the Presidency and established a single office of the President, which (under a new semi-presidential system) was now much more empowered than any of the previous offices. Up until this point, the various heads of state wielded far less real executive power than the Prime Ministers.

Since 1990, the President of the Republic of Croatia (Predsjednik) is directly elected to a five-year term and is limited to a maximum of two terms. However, with the constitution of 2001, the powers of the President (much expanded in 1990) were now again severely curtailed, as Croatia shifted from a semi-presidential system, to a parliamentary system. As in most parliamentary systems, the President is now by-and-large a ceremonial office, with the Prime Minister de facto heading the executive branch.

Heads of state of the People's Republic of Croatia (1945–1963) and the Socialist Republic of Croatia (1963–1990)[edit]

President of the Presidium of Parliament (1943–1953)[edit]

  League of Communists of Yugoslavia (2)

No. President Lifespan Term of office

Electoral
mandates
Party Notes
1 Vladimir Nazor Vladimir Nazor 1876–1949 13 June
1943
19 June
1949
Independent[1] From 1943 to 1945 formal head of state as Speaker of the ZAVNOH (Croatian wartime assembly). Post-war served as head of state in the function of President of the Presidium of the Parliament. First head of state of modern Croatia. Died in office.
2 Karlo Mrazović Karlo Mrazović 1902–1987 15 October
1949

1952
Communist Party of Yugoslavia
3 Vicko Krstulović Vicko Krstulović 1905–1988
1952
6 February
1953
Communist Party of Yugoslavia
(renamed in 1952)
League of Communists of Yugoslavia
(renamed in 1952)

Speaker of the Croatian Parliament (1953–1974)[edit]

  League of Communists of Yugoslavia (5)

No. President Lifespan Term of office

Electoral
mandates
Party Notes
4 Zlatan Sremec Zlatan Sremec 1898–1971 6 February
1953
December
1953
League of Communists of Yugoslavia Speaker of Parliament since 1946; became formal head of state (as Speaker) on 6 February 1953 with the abolition of the Presidium.
5 Vladimir Bakarić Vladimir Bakarić 1912–1983 December
1953
December
1963
League of Communists of Yugoslavia Longest term to date as Croatian head of state, also served as Prime Minister of Croatia. People's Hero of Yugoslavia
6 Ivan Krajačić Ivan Krajačić 1906–1986 December
1963
June
1967
League of Communists of Yugoslavia
7 Jakov Blažević Jakov Blažević 1912–1996 June
1967
April
1974
League of Communists of Yugoslavia
8 Ivo Perišin Ivo Perišin 1925–2008 April
1974
8 May
1974
League of Communists of Yugoslavia Ceased to be the head of state with the establishment of the collective Presidency on 8 May 1974; continued on as Speaker until 1978. Also at one time held the positions of Prime Minister of Croatia, and Mayor of Split.

Presidents of the Presidency (1974–1990)[edit]

  League of Communists of Yugoslavia (8)   Croatian Democratic Union (1)

No. President Lifespan Term of office

Electoral
mandates
Party Notes
9 Jakov Blažević Jakov Blažević 1912–1996 8 May
1974
May
1982
League of Communists of Yugoslavia
10 Marijan Cvetković Marijan Cvetković 1920–1990 May
1982
May
1983
League of Communists of Yugoslavia
11 Milutin Baltić Milutin Baltić 1920–2013 May
1983
10 May
1984
League of Communists of Yugoslavia
12 Jakša Petrić Jakša Petrić 1922–1993 10 May
1984
10 May
1985
League of Communists of Yugoslavia
13 Pero Car Pero Car 1920–1985 10 May
1985
15 November
1985
League of Communists of Yugoslavia Died in office.
14 Ema Derosi-Bjelajac Ema Derosi-Bjelajac 1926– 20 November
1985
10 May
1986
League of Communists of Yugoslavia First female head of state of modern Croatia.
15 Ante Marković Ante Marković 1924–2011 10 May
1986
May
1988
League of Communists of Yugoslavia Also at one time Prime Minister of Croatia, and last Prime Minister of Yugoslavia. Led successful reforms terminated by the ensuing Yugoslav Wars.
16 Ivo Latin Ivo Latin 1929–2002 May
1988
30 May
1990
League of Communists of Yugoslavia
17 Franjo Tuđman Franjo Tuđman 1922–1999 30 May
1990
25 July
1990
Croatian Democratic Union Constitutional amendments in July 1990 changed formal title to "President of Croatia" and expanded presidential powers. New constitution (third since 1945) drafted later that year.

Presidents of the Republic of Croatia (1990–present)[edit]

Franjo Tuđman was elected on 30 May 1990 as the President of the Presidency of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, a constituent republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and held office together with 6 Vice-presidents of the Presidency. However, with the adoption of a new constitution on 22 December 1990 the name of the republic was changed, removing the word Socialist from its name and abolishing the Presidency in favor of the post of President of the Republic of Croatia. The Croatian Parliament declared independence on 25 June 1991, but postponed its decision until 8 October 1991, when Tuđman formally became president of an independent nation. Thus, the current office is not considered a continuation of the line of heads of state who held office while Croatia was a constituent republic in Yugoslavia and whose heads of state held a subnational office.

(*)The constitutional amendments of November 2000 abandoned a semi-presidential system for a parliamentary system (with a directly elected president) and also made the presidency a non-partisan office, meaning that even if the they are elected to office as a candidate of a particular political party, he or she must resign membership in that party before taking office as president.

  Croatian Democratic Union (2)   Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats (1)   Social Democratic Party of Croatia (1)

No Picture Name Term Tenure Presidential mandate Affiliation
1 Franjo Tuđman Franjo Tuđman
Signature of Franjo Tuđman.png
(1922–1999)
25 July
1990
12 August
1992
Croatian Democratic Union
1 12 August
1992
12 August
1997
1992 — 56.73%
2 12 August
1997
10 December
1999
1997 — 61.41%
Parliament elected him President of the Presidency of SR Croatia in May 1990, but the title of the office was changed to President of the Republic of Croatia on 25 July 1990 and the Presidium of SR Croatia (Presidency) was abolished. A new constitution was enacted in December 1990. The Independence referendum was held in May 1991 with 93% of voters supporting independence. It was followed by a formal declaration of independence on 25 July 1991 and again on 8 October 1991. Tuđman survived an assassination attempt by the Yugoslav Air Force on 7 October 1991, which targeted not only him, but also the then-President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia Stjepan Mesić and then-Prime Minister of Yugoslavia Ante Marković. Croatia and Slovenia gained recognition by the European Union on 15 January 1992 and joined the United Nations in May 1992. Croatian Serbs begin to rise up, resulting in the Log Revolution in 1990. Most of Tuđman's first and second terms (1990-1997) was marked by the Croatian War of Independence, which took place from 1991 to 1995. Key military operations authorized by Tuđman in the war are Operation Maslenica, Operation Medak Pocket, Operation Winter '94, Operation Flash and Operation Storm. A war also broke out between the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, an unrecognized entity and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The conflict was resolved by the Washington Agreement in 1994, of which Tuđman is a co-signatory along with Haris Silajdžić and Krešimir Zubak. The Erdut Agreement, signed in November 1995 paved the way for the establishment of a UN mission in eastern Croatia (UNTAES) and the peaceful re-integration in 1998, of the areas formerly occupied by the self-declared SAO Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia. Tuđman is, along with Alija Izetbegović and Slobodan Milošević, a co-signatory of the Dayton Agreement which ended the Bosnian War. Tuđman often displayed authoritarian tendencies and was able to expand his powers beyond constitutional limits due to a large HDZ parliamentary majority. Therefore, an extremely powerful semi-presidential system (or rather superpresidential system) existed until Tuđman's death and resulted most notably in events such as the Zagreb crisis. He died in office in December 1999.
Vlatko Pavletić
(1930–2007)
10 December
1999
2 February
2000
Acting President Croatian Democratic Union
Tuđman was incapacitated since 26 November 1999 and died on 10 December 1999. Pavletić became acting president as Speaker of the Croatian Parliament. He was succeeded by Zlatko Tomčić when the 4th Assembly of Parliament was replaced by the 5th Assembly after the 2000 election.
Zlatko Tomčić Zlatko Tomčić
(1945-)
2 February
2000
18 February
2000
Acting President Croatian Peasant Party
Became acting president as Speaker of Parliament when the 4th Assembly of Parliament (1995-2000) was replaced by the 5th Assembly (2000-2003). Served until Stjepan Mesić was sworn in as the new President on 18 February 2000.
2 Stjepan Mesić Stjepan Mesić
Signature of Stjepan Mesić.png
(1934-)
3 18 February
2000
18 February
2005
2000 — 56.01% Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats* (formally independent)
4 19 February
2005
18 February
2010
2005 — 65.93%
Before his tenure as president, he served as the Prime Minister (1990), a Croatian Member of the Presidency of Yugoslavia (1990-1991), the President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia (1991), the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement (1991) and the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament (1992-1994). He was the first president with reduced powers, as the semi-presidential system was replaced by an incomplete parliamentary system in November 2000. During his first term Croatia joined NATO's Partnership for Peace in 2000 and became a full NATO member state in 2009. Furthermore, Croatia became a member of the World Trade Organization in 2000 and applied for membership in the European Union in 2003. During his second term Slovenia blocked Croatia's EU membership negotiations from 2008 to 2009.
3 Ivo Josipović Ivo Josipović
Accession Treaty 2011 Ivo Josipović signature.svg
(1957-)
5 19 February
2010
18 February
2015
2009-10 — 60.26% Social Democratic Party* (formally independent)
Before becoming president he served as a Member of Parliament for the 1st electoral district from 2003 until 2010. During his term, Slovenia unblocked Croatia's EU accession negotiations. This was followed by the conclusion of accession negotiations with the EU in June 2011. He co-signed the EU accession treaty in December 2011. As a result, the successful EU membership referendum took place in 2012. Croatia officially became the 28th member country of the EU on 1 July 2013. The referendum on the constitutional definition of marriage was held in in December 2013. He pursued the normalization of relations with Serbia, apologized for the Paulin Dvor massacre in 2010 (previously Serbian President Boris Tadić had done so for the Ovčara massacre) and gave a speech in the National Assembly of Serbia in 2013. The Life Partnership Act is introduced in 2014, giving same-sex couples almost all the rights enjoyed by heterosexual married couples (though most notably still limiting adoption rights). He was narrowly defeated by Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in his re-election bid in 2015.
4 Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
(1968-)
6 19 February
2015
Incumbent 2014-15 — 50.74% Croatian Democratic Union* (formally independent)
She is a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador to the United States and Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO. She defeated Ivo Josipović in the second round of 2015 election. She is the first female president since independence and also the youngest, aged 46. A migrant crisis began in September 2015 and over 650.000 refugees passed through Croatia by May 2016. She is pursuing closer relations with Eastern European and Visegrád Group countries as part of her Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea initiative and advocates the normalization of relations with Serbia. Furthermore, she promotes greater involvement of the Croatian diaspora in home affairs and vice versa. She has outlined demographic regeneration, the return of citizens working abroad, economic growth, restoration of national unity (based on that of the 1990s War of Independence) and ideological reconciliation as key elements of her policy agenda. The first half of her term was marked by relative instability of government, resulting in three prime ministers holding office in less than one year (Zoran Milanović, Tihomir Orešković and Andrej Plenković) and two parliamentary elections taking place in as much time (in 2015 and 2016). Furthermore, this time period is marked by a rise in right-wing nationalism and ideological polarization (commonly referred to in Croatia by the phrase the Ustaše vs the Partisans) and a periodic heightening of tensions with Serbia, most prominently manifested through verbal conflicts with Prime Minister (now also President-elect) Aleksandar Vučić.

Statistics[edit]

# President Date of birth Age at ascension
(first term)
Time in office
(total)
Age at retirement
(last term)
Date of death Longevity
1 Tuđman, FranjoFranjo Tuđman 19220514May 14, 1922(May 14, 1922) 68 01668 years, 16 days 09 1949 years, 194 days 77 21077 years, 210 days 19991210December 10, 1999 28,33477 years, 210 days
A Pavletić, VlatkoVlatko Pavletić 19301202December 2, 1930(December 2, 1930) 69 00869 years, 8 days 00 0540 years, 54 days 69 06269 years, 62 days 20070919September 19, 2007 28,05076 years, 291 days
A Tomčić, ZlatkoZlatko Tomčić 19451007October 7, 1945(October 7, 1945) 54 11854 years, 118 days 00 0160 years, 16 days 54 13454 years, 134 days Living 26,13471 years, 201 days (Living)
2 Mesić, StjepanStjepan Mesić 19341224December 24, 1934(December 24, 1934) 65 05665 years, 56 days 10 00010 years, 0 days 55 24375 years, 56 days Living 30,07482 years, 123 days (Living)
3 Josipović, IvoIvo Josipović 19570828August 28, 1957(August 28, 1957) 52 17552 years, 175 days 05 0005 years, 0 days 57 17557 years, 175 days Living 21,79159 years, 241 days (Living)
4 Grabar-Kitarović, KolindaKolinda Grabar-Kitarović 19680429April 29, 1968(April 29, 1968) 46 29546 years, 295 days 00 316 18932 years, 66 days (Ongoing) Incumbent Living 17,89448 years, 362 days (Living)

A - Acting President

Spouses of Croatian Presidents[edit]

See also: Spouses of Croatian Presidents and Prime Ministers

The First Lady or First Gentleman of Croatia is the informal title given to the wife or husband of the President of Croatia. It is used almost exclusively outside the country itself or by foreign media sources, while within Croatia itself the spouse of the President is usually referred to as either the wife of the President of the Republic or the husband of the President of the Republic, rather than being referenced as a First Spouse. The title carries no official or formal duties and is purely honorary.

Name Relation to President Assumed position Left position Lifespan
Ankica Tuđman (née Žumbar) wife of Franjo Tuđman 30 May 1990 10 December 1999 1926-
Neda Pavletić (née Majnarić) wife of Vlatko Pavletić 10 December 1999 2 February 2000  ?
Slavica Tomčić wife of Zlatko Tomčić 2 February 2000 18 February 2000 1953-
Milka Mesić (née Dudundić) wife of Stjepan Mesić 18 February 2000 18 February 2010 1939-
Tatjana Josipović (née Klepac) wife of Ivo Josipović 19 February 2010 18 February 2015 1962-
Jakov Kitarović husband of Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović 19 February 2015 Incumbent 1968-

Facts and records of Presidents of Croatia[edit]

Age[edit]

  • Oldest first-term president: Franjo Tuđman (68 years, 16 days) - Note: technically first term but regarded as interim term (1990-1992) until direct elections could take place in 1992.
  • Oldest president upon second inauguration: Franjo Tuđman (70 years, 91 days) - Note: technically second term (1992-1997) but regarded as first term under constitutional provision and first following introduction of direct elections.
  • Oldest President at beginning of final term: Franjo Tuđman (75 years, 91 days)- Note: technically third term (1997-1999) but regarded as second under constitutional provision and second following introduction of direct elections
  • Oldest president upon end of final term: Franjo Tuđman (77 years, 210 days)
  • Oldest head of state (overall) upon entering office: Vlatko Pavletić (as acting President) (69 years, 8 days)
  • Youngest president upon inauguration: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (46 years, 295 days)
  • Youngest president upon second inauguration: Stjepan Mesić (70 years, 56 days)
  • Youngest president upon end of term: Ivo Josipović (57 years, 175 days)
  • Youngest president upon end of second term: Stjepan Mesić (75 years, 56 days)
  • Youngest head of state (overall) upon end of term: Zlatko Tomčić (as acting President) (54 years, 134 days)

Terms and elections[edit]

  • Three terms: Franjo Tuđman (1990-1992, 1992-1997, 1997-1999)
  • Two terms: Stjepan Mesić (2000-2005, 2005-2010)
  • One term: Ivo Josipović (2010-2015), Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (in office since 2015)
  • Longest serving president: Stjepan Mesić (10 years, 0 days/ 3653 days)
  • Shortest serving president with complete term: Ivo Josipović (5 years, 0 days/ 1826 days)
  • Shortest serving head of state: Zlatko Tomčić (as acting president) (16 days)


  • Highest vote percentage in an election: Franjo Tuđman (83,14%) - indirectly by parliament in 1990
  • Highest vote percentage in a direct election (overall): Stjepan Mesić (65,93%) - second round in 2000
  • Highest vote percentage in a direct election (first round): Franjo Tuđman (61,4%) - in 1997
  • Lowest vote percentage in an election (second round): Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (50,74%) - in 2015
  • Lowest vote percentage in an election (first round): Ivo Josipović (32,42%) - in 2009


  • Highest number of votes in an election (overall): 1.519.000 (Franjo Tuđman in 1992)
  • Highest number of votes in second round: 1.454.451 (Stjepan Mesić in 2005)
  • Lowest number of votes in an election (overall): 640.594 (Ivo Josipović in first round in 2009)
  • Lowest number of votes in second round: 1.114.945 (Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in 2015)
  • Largest margin of victory in a direct election (%): 40,4% (Franjo Tuđman (61,4%) and Zdravko Tomac (21%) in 1997)
  • Largest margin of victory in a direct election (votes): 933.565 votes (Franjo Tuđman and Dražen Budiša in 1992)
  • Smallest margin of victory in a direct election (%): 1,48% (Kolinda Grabar Kitarović (50,74%) and Ivo Josipović (49,26%) in 2015 (second round)
  • Smallest margin of victory in a direct election (votes): 32.509 (Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Ivo Josipović in 2015 (second round))
  • Only indirectly elected president: Franjo Tuđman (by 281 of 338 votes of Members of Parlimanet in 1990)

Other facts and figures[edit]

  • First female president: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
  • First former Prime Minister to become President: Stjepan Mesić
  • First former Speaker of Parliament to be elected President: Stjepan Mesić
  • Only former President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia to become President: Stjepan Mesić
  • Only President to have been head of state of more than one independent country: Stjepan Mesić (as President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia (1990-1991) and President of Croatia (2000-2010))
  • Only President to have held all three highest offices of government (President of the Republic, Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister): Stjepan Mesić
  • Only President who has at some point been Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement: Stjepan Mesić (as President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia)
  • President with most Prime Ministers serving during term: Franjo Tuđman (6 Prime Ministers - Stjepan Mesić, Josip Manolić, Franjo Gregurić, Hrvoje Šarinić, Nikica Valentić, Zlatko Mateša)
  • Only president to die in office: Franjo Tuđman

See also[edit]

References[edit]