Zoran Milanović was sworn in at noon on Tuesday as the fifth President of Croatia, at a low-key ceremony in the President’s Office in Zagreb’s Pantovčak neighbourhood, breaking with the tradition of a public event in the Saint Mark’s Square.
A total of only 43 guests, including state officials, the President’s family, and his campaign team, attended the ceremony, which is the lowest figure to date. This is the first time that party leaders, diplomats, and church dignitaries did not attend a presidential inauguration.
Outgoing President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and former presidents Stjepan Mesić and Ivo Josipović were in attendance, as well as Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and deputy speakers, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and three of his deputies, Constitutional Court President Miroslav Šeparovic, and the Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Mirko Sundov.
The ceremony began with the performance of the national anthem by Croatian pop and jazz diva Josipa Lisac, accompanied by pianist Zvjezdan Ružić.
Former Prime Minister, Social Democrat Zoran Milanović was elected President in a runoff election on January 5, beating the incumbent conservative Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic with 52.7 per cent to 47.3 per cent of votes.
The CV of the fifth Croatian president
Milanović was the prime minister from 2011 to January 2016 as the Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader. He took the helm of the SDP in 2007 and stepped down in 2016 after the party lost the 2015 parliamentary election.
Milanović was born on 30 October 1966 in Zagreb where he grew up and went to school. After graduating from the Zagreb Faculty of Law, he became an intern at the Zagreb Commercial Court, and then at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1993. The following year he joined an Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission to war-torn Nagorno Karabakh (Azerbaijan). In 1996 he was appointed an adviser at Croatia’s mission to the EU and NATO in Brussels where he obtained his post-graduate degrees in European and Comparative Law in 1998.
In 2004 Milanović left his position as assistant foreign minister and, at the invitation of the then leader of the SDP Ivica Račan, became a member of the party’s executive committee and secretary for international relations. After Račan’s death in April 2007, Milanović was elected the party’s president in June of the same year, beating his rivals Željka Antunović, Milan Bandić and Tonino Picula.
In 2007, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) won a parliamentary election once again and Milanović became the leader of the opposition as the SDP’s president and chairman of the party’s group in the Croatian parliament.
During the election campaign for the 2011 parliamentary election, he signed a coalition agreement with the Croatian People’s Party (HNS), Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) and Croatian Pensioners’ Party (HSS). On December 4 that year, the coalition won the election, securing 80 seats (an absolute majority) in parliament. After losing the 2015 parliamentary election Milanovic stepped down as the leader of the SDP and started a private consulting company. He announced his presidential bid in June 2019.
Milanović is married to Sanja Milanović, an epidemiologist, and they have two sons.