Almost four and a half million Croats are eligible to vote in Sunday’s parliamentary elections. The choice is between the ruling HDZ conservatives and the SDP left-wing opposition. Latest opinion polls give the HDZ a slight lead. Two of the major issues future membership in the EU and NATO.
The centre-right HDZ Christian Democratic Union is led by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader. He won the 2003 election and purged the party of hardliners as well as adopting a pro-western agenda and liberal economic policies. With economic growth of almost five percent last year and political stability Croatia is often seen as an example for other former Yugoslav republics to follow.
The main challenge for the HDZ comes from the Social Democratic Party led by Zoran Milanovic who has put up low profile, former economics minister Ljubo Jurcic, as prime ministerial candidate. Neither of the major parties are expected to be able to form a government on their own, so drawn out coalition talks are possible.