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Croats vote for new President


Zagreb, December 29 - Croats were voting for a new head of state on Sunday but none of the four candidates for the largely ceremonial post in the European Union’s newest member seemed likely to win outright.
Incumbent Ivo Josipovic, supported by the ruling Social Democrats (SDP), is seen as a frontrunner even though the government’s failure to halt economic decline has greatly eroded the SDP’s popularity ahead of a general election in late 2015.
“The SDP sees Josipovic’s victory as some kind of a lifeline ahead of the parliamentary election, but it’s not quite like that,” said Andjelko Milardovic, head of the institute for European and Globalisation Studies, a Zagreb-based think-tank.
Josipovic, a soft-spoken jurist and composer of classical music, topped opinion polls ahead of the vote but will probably face a run-off on Jan. 11 against Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic from the conservative HDZ, the main opposition party.
Grabar-Kitarovic is a former foreign minister, ambassador to Washington and NATO official.
“Anything is possible in the run-off, but for the HDZ, the outcome if this ballot is almost irrelevant. There is such a great likelihood that they will return to power in the general election next year, given the SDP’s failed promises and loss of trust,” Milardovic said.
The former Yugoslav republic, which joined the EU in July last year, has had six years of recession with prospects of zero growth in 2015 and unemployment at 19 percent. It remains stifled by high taxes and inefficient administration.


 

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