Davor Bernardic has been elected to lead the Social Democratic Party (SDP) over the next four years, Croatia's strongest opposition party decided at an election on Saturday.
Addressing party members after the announcement of preliminary unofficial results on Saturday night, Bernardic said that under his leadership the SDP would advocate a society of equal opportunity and would not let Croatia be divided ever again on the issue of the 1991-1995 Homeland War.
He said that the SDP would protect people who live off their work and care for pensioners, for people in need, and for those working in the creative industries. He particularly stressed the importance of being open to those who are different, and freedom of women's reproductive rights.
Bernardic defeated his opponent, Ranko Ostojic, in the election runoff, capturing 64.54 percent of the vote. He succeeds Zoran Milanovic, who has been at the party's helm over the last nine years.
Milanovic congratulated Bernardic on his victory and called on the membership to support the new leader, especially in defending "freedom, civic patriotism and Croatia's place in the turbulent Europe, in which it is not clear where things are going."
"Being just a small EU member, an obedient clerk in the service of Brussels, that's not the SDP for me," Milanovic said, adding that he still saw the SDP as a party that would promote "Croatian and universal human interests, justice, equality, freedom, and everything else that makes it different from its rivals."