Polls Close in Croatia’s Presidential Election

Polls have closed in Croatia Sunday evening after a presidential election in which no candidate is expected to win an outright majority.Political analysts predict there will be a run-off election in two weeks, though exit polls show leftist former prime minister Zoran Milanovic with a slight lead.Milanovic is challenging incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, a conservative as well as right-wing singer Miroslav Skoro.  Milanovic had 29.58% of the vote followed by 26.38 for Grabar-Kitarovic, and 24.1% for Skoro, according to one exit poll broadcast on Croatian national television.Croatia’s presidency is largely ceremonial. Incumbent Grabar-Kitarovic has portrayed herself as the people’s president but has been criticized by opponents for flirting with the far-right. Milanovic has promised to turn Croatia into a “normal” country, while Skoro has campaigned on an anti-establishment platform.The pre-Christmas election comes just days before Croatia begins its first six-month term at the helm of the European Union’s rotating presidency, starting on January 1.Croatia, with over 3.8 million eligible voters, is still one of the poorest countries in the EU more than two decades after the devastating Balkan war between 1991 and 1995.

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