Did the 2015 and 2016 Parliamentary Elections Change the Political Cleavages in Croatia?

Andrija Henjak


Studies of voting behaviour in Croatia established the existence
of deep divisions within the electorate over symbolic and identity
issues. These divisions based on attitudes toward religion,
tradition, and history, shaped the patterns of electoral behaviour
after gaining independence and finally led to the consolidation
of a bipolar pattern of political competition. However, in the
elections held in 2015 and 2016 new political actors emerged
with messages that cannot be placed within the traditional
pattern of political divisions. Using electoral surveys fielded
immediately after the 2015 and 2016 elections, this paper
analyses whether electoral support for new political actors in
these elections is a result of voters, especially younger voters,
moving away from the traditional structure of political cleavages,
and their mobilisation by other political issues. Analysis shows
that support for new parties is largely due to sizable segments of
voters moving away from traditional cleavages, and to a lesser
extent, their mobilisation on new political issues.


electoral behaviour; party system; political parties; political cleavages; elections

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