Croatia’s Kukuriku party will now guide the country into European Union membership in 2013 after ending eight years of conservative rule.
Zoran Milanovic who heads a four-party centre-left alliance promised “hard work” after winning a majority in Croatia’s 151-seat parliament.
This week an EU accession treaty is due to be signed.
The ruling conservative HDZ led by Jadranka Kosor were roundly punished in the parliamentary poll, winning only 48 seats. A string of corruption scandals and rising unemployment saw them fall out of favour with voters. The HDZ had been in power for 16 of Croatia’s 20 years as an independent state.