The Republic of Croatia is a sovereign state that uses a parliamentary system of governance, with the national government's powers being divided between its executive, legislative, and judiciary branches. The president, who is the head of state, is elected for a maximum of two five year terms through popular votes according to the constitution. He or she is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and the ambassadors. The Croatian president also has the responsibility of coordinating operations of the national government and safeguarding the independence and territorial integrity of the country. Apart from heading the government, the president can call elections Croatian parliament and referendum upon an agreement with the prime minister who he or she appoints. The president, in consultation with the prime minister, appoints the security and intelligence agency. Croatian have been served by seven presidents since independence, including those listed below.
Franjo Tudman was the first President of Croatia after the country gained independence from Yugoslavia. He founded a political party, the Croatian Democratic Union, in 1989, which won the country’s first parliamentary elections in 1990. He became the president of SR Croatia where he pushed for the creation of an independent Croatia. He led a successful referendum which led to Croatian independence on June 25, 1991. He was subsequently elected as the first president of independent Croatia in 1992 and 1997 for the second term and served until his death in 1999. Franjo Tudman is known for leading Croatia during its War of Independence, signing a ceasefire in 1992. He also authorized the Operation Storm which finally ended the war in Croatia in 1995. Tudman is also credited for helping Croatia move away from communism.
Vlatko Pavletic, born on December 2, 1930, was an academician and a Croatian politician who served as an independent Croatian president. He served as an acting president from December 10, 1999, until February 2, 2000, after the death of President Frenjo Tudman. Before becoming the president, he served in various ministerial positions including culture, education, technology, and sports. He also served as speaker of the Croatian parliament from 1995 to 2000. Vlatko Pavletic retired from politics in 2004 and died of pancreatic cancer on September 19, 2007.
Zlatko Tomcic is an accomplished Croatian politician, having served the country in various political positions. Born in 1945, Tomcic became the leader of Croatian Peasant Party in 1994 and also served as the president of the Croatian Parliament. He became the second acting president of Croatia, after President Pavletic, for only 18 days from February 2, 2000, to February 19, 2000. He handed over the presidency to Stjepan Mesic after the election of 2000.
Stjepan Mesic served as the President of the Republic of Croatia from 2000 to 2010. Before becoming president, he served as the Prime Minister of Croatia in 1990, speaker of parliament, mayor in his hometown of Orahovica, and a judge. He is credited for promoting Croatia’s ambitions to join the European Union, and NATO, opposed the US military campaign against Iraq, and also improved foreign relations between Croatia and Libya. He handed over the presidency after serving the maximum two terms.
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, the is the fourth elected Croatian president and the first female president to serve the country. She served as the president from February 19, 2015 to February 18, 2020. Before her election as the president, she served in various ministerial positions including European affairs, foreign policy, and as an ambassador to the US.
Zoran Milanovića is the fifth and incumbent President of Croatia. Elections for the 5th President of the Republic of Croatia were held in 2019 and 2020. President Milanović was inaugurated on February 18, 2020 as the 5th Croatian President. Prior to his presidency, Milanovića was the Prime Minister of Croatia from 2011 to 2016.