In Croatia’s voting for a new president, the opposition Social Democrat candidate appears to have come out ahead in the first round. But exit polls did not show enough for an outright victory for law professor and composer Ivo Josipovic: 32.7 per cent.
As ballot counting went on, a former party colleague, the powerful populist mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandic, looked to have taken 14.1
per cent of the votes, as an independent.
There were 12 candidates in all. Second round voting is scheduled for Jan. 10. Both contenders for the top job have pledged to back Croatia’s bid for European Union membership, which it hopes to achieve in 2012.
Incumbent reformist Stipe Mesic leaves office in February. Among the electorate’s key concerns are the economic crisis, rising unemployment and its effect on living standards and cleaning up corruption.