Croatia’s incumbent President Ivo Josipovic maintained a slim lead in the first round of presidential election by winning 38.48 percent of the votes, compared with his rival Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic’s 37.18 percent. In Croatian history, only three presidential elections entered into the second round. Previously, all winners of the first round secured victory in run-offs by a margin of more than 13 percent of the votes. The upcoming run-off, to be held on January 11th, the two candidates will fight for votes going for Milan Kujundzic supported by a group of right wing parties as well as Ivan Vilibor Sincic, an activist. Both Kujundzic and Sincic lost in the first round of presidential election. It is very likely that Kujundzic voters, some 6.3 percent, will support Grabar Kitarovic if they go to polling stations again. Still, it remains unclear who will attract the votes going to Sincic, who won 16.42 percent of votes in the first round.
Dejan Jovic, professor of international politics on Zagreb Faculty of Political Sciences and former chief adviser to president Josipovic, said that those were mostly protest votes. “For a long time there was no political option for people who were against EU accession……So, now these voters either abstained or supported Sincic”, said Jovic. “It is very hard to predict what these voters will do, but it is not likely they would support Grabar Kitarovic”, said sociologist and political analyst Drazen Lalic. He noted that it will be crucial for Josipovic in second round to attract voters and motivate them to vote.
Analysts believed campaign in the second round will be more intense and candidates will have to offer concrete suggestions to solve problems in Croatia.