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AFP
July 6, 2020

Croatia votes for new govt

World

AFP
July 6, 2020

ZAGREB: Croatians went to the polls on Sunday for a government to navigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, in a tight race pitting ruling conservatives against leftist rivals and a new nationalist party on the rise.

The pandemic has put Croatia’s tourism-dependent economy on course for a contraction of nearly 10 percent -- its steepest decline in decades -- even as the country’s own health situation has remained stable.

The ruling conservative HDZ party, which has led the Adriatic country for most of its independence, has been touting its relative success in containing the country’s virus outbreak thus far, with an official tally of roughly 110 deaths and 3,000 infections. But a fresh rise of cases in recent weeks, with dozens recorded daily, has renewed fears over the health situation and given the opposition fresh ammunition.

"Whoever wins will face major economic problems to deal with in autumn. It won’t be easy," said Igor Ivic, a 49-year-old economist among the first crowd of voters to cast ballots in Zagreb.

Polls put Croatia’s two main camps -- Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s HDZ and the left-leaning ‘Restart’ coalition led by the Social Democrats (SDP) -- in a close contest. With neither expected to carve out an absolute majority in the 151-member house, tricky coalition talks are expected to follow the vote. That leaves the new populist ‘Homeland Movement’ of folk singer-turned-politician Miroslav Skoro, polling in third, a potential kingmaker.