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Croatian Democratic Union
The Croatian Democratic Union (Croatian: Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica, HDZ), is a Croatian political party. Although Croatia is currently negotiating its entry into the European Union, the HDZ is already a member of the European People's Party which is the strongest faction in the European Parliament.
The HDZ was founded in 1989 by Franjo Tuđman who led the party until his death in 1999. Croatian Democratic Union won the first free multi-party elections organised in 1990 which enabled it to form the government. The presidential elections ensued in 1992 and Tudjman was elected the president.
The party ruled Croatia throughout the 1990s and under its leadership, Croatia became independent (1991) and subsequently internationally recognised (1992), as well as consolidated all of its pre-war territory (by 1998).
As it was a strong advocate of the Croatian independence, the HDZ has been quite unpopular with the members of Serbian minority who have largely opposed Croatia's independence wanting to see Croatia remain inside the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Some link its popularity chiefly to renewed patriotism in Croatia and have described it as a popular, nationalist movement rather than a political party.
In early 2000, the HDZ lost the parliamentary election to a centre-left coalition of six parties, although it remained the single strongest political party in the country. In the presidential election also held in early 2000, HDZ's presidential candidate Mate Granić lost to Stipe Mesić.
In the period between 2000 and 2003, several businessmen who became tycoons under the HDZ were trialled and incarcerated for alleged abuses, though in general the privatization process implemented by the HDZ, which the critics consider suboptimal, wasn't significantly altered.
In late 2003 the party — under its current leader Ivo Sanader — won the parliamentary election, which enabled it to form a government which also includes a member of the Democratic Centre Party. The HDZ also has the support of the Croatian Social Liberal Party in the Croatian Parliament (Sabor).
The Sanader-led government finalized the implementation of the basic criteria for joining the European Union, such as the return of refugees to their homes, rebuilding houses damaged in the war, improving minority rights by including minority representatives in the government, cooperating with the ICTY, and continuing to consolidate the Croatian economy.
See also: Politics of Croatia
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