It is decision time in Croatia as the nation votes today for a new president.
Opinions polls show the man currently in the job, Stjepan Mesic, is set for victory.
He is seeking a second term that would leave him to oversee European Union entry, planned for 2007.
Surveys show the liberal politician could win outright – garnering more than 50 percent of the vote. With an estimated 20 percent support, his main rival is conservative Deputy Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor.
The 51-year-old former journalist hopes to take today’s battle at the ballot box to a second round that would take place in mid January. She faces a stiff challenge from Mesic who has been credited with spearheading Croatia’s efforts to normalise relations with Serbia and Bosnia following the bloody wars that tore former Yugoslavia appart in the early 1990s.
The 70-year-old succeeded the late leader Franjo Tudjman in 2000 who had led the country to independence and who was later ostracized by the West for his hardline nationalism.
Polls are open for twelve hours and close at 7pm local time. The first official results are expected at about midnight.