Croatian President Ivo Josipovic failed to win re-election in the first round as NATO official Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic forced a Jan. 11 run-off on a campaign to help the Balkan country emerge from six years of recession. Josipovic, a Social Democrat, won 38.57 percent after 97 percent of vote counted, the state electoral commission said on its website yesterday. Grabar Kitarovic, running for the main opposition party, the Croatian Democratic Union, took 37.08 percent. Milan Kujundzic, supported by a group of small right-wing parties, and Ivan Sincic, an independent, garnered 6.28 percent and 16.46 percent, respectively. “Grabar Kitarovic advances to run-off as a favorite, for several reasons,” Zarko Puhovski, a political science professor at the University of Zagreb, said by phone. “The Croatian Democratic Union has traditionally been better at mobilizing its voters. She will get all the votes given to Kujundzic, and about half the votes given to Sincic.”
The new head of state will have to work with the Social-Democrat-led government to lead the country of 4.2 million people out of its longest recession on record. The central bank forecast growth of 0.2 percent next year.
Croatia, which joined the European Union last year, has lost about 12 percent of gross domestic product since 2008, the last pre-crisis year, according to a World Bank report released earlier this month. Unemployment in the same period has doubled.