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Monday, 12 January 2015

Croatia Elects First Female President

A conservative populist has become Croatia's first female president after beating the centre-left incumbent in a runoff election amid widespread discontent over economic woes in the European Union's newest member.

The state electoral commission said that after about 97 percent of the vote was counted, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic won 50.54 of the vote on Sunday, while President Ivo Josipovic had 49.46 percent.

The result meant that Grabar-Kitarovic won by a slight margin of about 21,000 votes.

The vote was seen as a major test for Croatia's centre-left government, which is facing parliamentary elections later this year under a cloud of criticism over its handling of the economic crisis.

The conservative triumph could shift Croatia back to right-wing nationalism, jeopardising relations with its neighbours, including bitter Balkan wartime rival Serbia.

The election was always expected to be close. In the first round two weeks ago, Josipovic won 38.5 percent of the vote, just edging Grabar-Kitarovic with 37.2 percent. The runoff was called because neither candidate captured more than the 50 percent needed to win outright.

The presidency in Croatia is a largely ceremonial position, but the vote was considered an important test for the main political parties before the parliamentary elections expected in the second half of the year.

The victory for Grabar-Kitarovic - giving her a five-year term - greatly boosts the chances of her centre-right Croatian Democratic Union to win back power.

Source: AJZ

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