Croatia remains largely left out of comparative studies of postcommunism even though its political development after 2000 places it firmly within the group of European post-communist consolidated democracies. In this paper I analyse the case of Croatia by combining comparative frameworks that focus on concepts of democratisation and Europeanization. The analysis shows that in the 1990s Croatia belonged to the group of illiberal democracies together with Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. They were characterised by postponed economic and political reforms, clientelism and corruption in government. This is primarily attributed to the absence of a competitive party system with alternations of parties in power. The concept of political party competition as developed by Grzymala Busse (2002, 2007) and Vachudova (2005) is however not sufficient on its own to explain democratisation trajectories, so it is complemented with Schimmelfennig, Engert and Knobel’s (2006) concept of political party constellation. According to their argument, in countries where both liberal and illiberal parties structure the party space, the tipping point for democratisation happens when all main parties adopt a liberal political practice. Croatia’s ‘democratic turn’ elections happened in 2000, after which the CDU initiated an internal reform into a pro- European Christian Democratic party. As a result, after 2000 Croatian political party space became dominantly liberal-oriented and pro-EU, jump-starting EU accession. Finally, the analysis suggests that postcommunist countries need to democratise first in order for Europeanization of domestic political space to start taking place.