Croatia’s complex and violent transition contributed to conditions under which ex-communists have exerted significant influence over multiple post-Communist parties. In the 1990s, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) led by President Franjo Tudjman employed war to impose a semi-authoritarian system that further weakened the electoral prospects of the most logical Communist successor party—the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The SDP-led coalition’s win in the 2000 elections ushered in conditions that enabled a deeper democratization in Croatia that brought it closer toward integration into the EU. HDZ’s loss in 2000 and EU leverage then helped compel HDZ to reform and to continue work toward meeting EU accession requirements.

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