Croatia, like Slovenia, is voting in a general election with the floundering economy the centre of debate 18 months before the country is due to join its neighbour in the EU.
Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor’s conservative HDZ party has been trailing in the polls as voters show their frustration with growing poverty and unemployment.
It has also been plagued by corruption scandals since former prime minister Ivo Sanader stepped down in 2009. He is now on trial, accused of taking a huge bribe. Croatia has pledged to root out corruption before joining the EU.
The polls suggest the centre-left opposition known as Kukuriku or ‘Cock-a-doodle-do’ is heading for victory. Led by the Social Democrats’ Zoran Milanovic, it has pledged to boost growth, jobs and investment.
“I think that the most important thing nowadays is to find or to have an efficient government in Croatia that will not make wrong moves about the financial and economic stability of the country,” said political analyst Ivan Rimac.
A popular tourist destination, Croatia enjoyed a boom before the economy ground to a halt with the global crisis.
One of the new government’s priorities will be to avoid a credit downgrade.