Former Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic on Tuesday took over from outgoing conservative Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic as President.
Milanovic, 53, served a full term as Prime Minister until January 2016. After his Social Democrats (SDP) lost in parliamentary elections, he quit as party Chief and left politics.
He was given only a slim chance of stopping Grabar-Kitarovic of the governing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) when he announced that he would run for president in Dec. 22 election.
He, however, capitalised on his rival’s blunders and the declining popularity of the HDZ to win both in the first round and the run-off.
A politician, who never shied away from clashing with political opponents, promised even before the elections that he would not co-exist peacefully with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.
He said he could further aggravate Plenkovic’s position ahead of 2020 parliamentary elections.
Apart from the HDZ dropping below the SDP in surveys, he is also under pressure within the party and faces a challenge for leadership at the party congress in August.
The post of the president is largely ceremonial in Croatia but has a say in defence and diplomacy.