The People's Party (Croatian: Narodna Stranka), often referred to merely as Narodna, is a Croatian left-wing nationalist political party founded in 1951 by Croatian partisans and which is referred to as the "natural governing party of Croatia." The party, which started out as an explicitly nationalist party, is today a nationalist social democratic party that serves as a catch-all party for the Croatian mainstream left. In 1968, a rightist faction of the original Narodna broke off to form the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). Today, Narodna and the HDZ are the major contemporary center-left and center-right political parties of Croatia, both of which are nationalist in nature, in opposition to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDS), which is a centrist, non-nationalist liberal party governing in a broad coalition since 2013.
Between 1953 and 1981, Narodna served in majority and coalition governments continuously, though it did not always enjoy senior party status and its leader was not always the Prime Minister. In 1981, it was defeated by a coalition of the HDZ, Prava (Party of Rights) and the PiV (Faith and Justice), marking the first time since independence that Narodna did not form at least part of the government. Narodna would not return to power until 1998 when Ivica Račan defeated the weak government of Dražen Budiša, only to lose power once again in 2002 when Ivo Sanader's HDZ-led coalition seized control. Sanader was defeated in the 2009 parliamentary election by Zoran Milanović, who despite the landslide win was unable to maintain control of his fractious Narodna caucus and narrowly lost control of Parliament in the 2013 elections to the centrist coalition led by Vesna Pusić after negotiations between the LDS and Narodna to form a historic government fell through at the eleventh hour. Milanović, for his efforts to rebrand and expand Narodna and for merging it with the Socialist Labor Party (SRS) in 2010, remains Party President, while his protege Milanka Opacić serves as Leader of the Oppositition in Parliament.