With election night over, coalition negotiations are now a priority in Croatia. The ruling conservatives, led by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, were celebrating as the results came in. They now have 66 seats, but that is 11 short of a parliamentary majority.
The Social Democrat Party has no intention of conceding defeat just yet.
Just ten seats behind the winners, their leader, Zoran Milanovic, believes he can muster a workable majority .
“The one who brings persuasive proof that they have made up a parliamentary majority will get a mandate,” said the Croatian President Stjepan Mesic.
Both parties are pledging more reforms, aware that if they secure power they’ll take Croatia into the European Union. Analysts favour the incumbent.
“I think Ivo Sanadar has an advantage over his opponents, and the most important reason is not that he has more votes and more seats, but because he is a much more experienced negotiator.”
Brussels has told Zagreb it needs to reform its judiciary and bloated civil service, and crack down on corruption.