Croatia's opposition candidate set to win presidential vote: exit poll

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Polls show Zoran Milanovic will win 53.25 per cent of votes ahead of the incumbent centre-right Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

Jan 5, 2020

January 5, 2020

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The candidate from Croatia’s main opposition party, the Social Democrats, and former prime minister Zoran Milanovic looked set to become the country’s next president, an exit poll on state television showed on Sunday.

The poll showed that in the second round of the presidential election Mr Milanovic won 53.25 per cent of votes ahead of the incumbent centre-right Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, the candidate for the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), who won 46.75 per cent of votes.

Mr Milanovic, who was prime minister from 2011 to 2015, ran his election campaign on the promise to fight corruption that he said had intensified after he left power and the conservatives took over.

“Milanovic’s victory would consolidate the Social Democrats and strengthen the party ahead of a parliamentary vote (in the autumn),” political analyst Branko Caratan told state television.

In the first round two weeks ago Mr Milanovic beat 11 other candidates to come first with 29.6 per cent of votes ahead of Grabar-Kitarovic who won 26.7 per cent of the votes.

The president’s role is largely ceremonial in Croatia. The head of state cannot veto laws, but has a say in foreign policy, defence and security matters.

“This election is a kind of preliminary stage for the parliamentary election later this year,” said political analyst Zarko Puhovski.

Croatia, which took over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union on January 1, is set to hold its next parliamentary election in the autumn.

The State Electoral Commission said turnout had reached 43.5 per cent by 3.30pm GMT. Voting closed at 6pm GMT.

Updated: January 5, 2020 11:41 PM

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