Croatian presidential election: Exit polls show Milanovic in the lead

NEWS 22.12.2019 19:16

The exit polls, published at 7pm local time, place former Prime Minister and centre-left candidate Zoran Milanovic in the lead in the Croatian presidential election with 29.58 percent of votes, with the incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who is seeking another term backed by the ruling centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), coming in at close second, with 26.38 percent.

Singer Miroslav Skoro, who ran as an independent endorsed by right-wing groups, rounds-off the top tier with 24.10 percent of votes.

Former judge and MEP, Mislav Kolakusic, who built a large social media following with his anti-corruption message, is far behind in fourth place, with 5.82 percent. 

Despite the rainy weather, voter turnout was 2.5 percent higher than in the last presidential election in 2014, in which Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and the then-incumbent Ivo Josipovic, backed by the SDP, went through to the second round, which Grabar-Kitarovic won by a paper-thin margin. 

A record eleven candidates qualified for the race in the seventh presidential election held in Croatia, and unless one of them wins an absolute majority of 50 percent plus one vote, the top two hopefuls will go to a run-off, scheduled for January 5.

Other candidates include former chair of the Conflict of Interest Commission, Dalija Oreskovic, film director who ran on a satirical pro-corruption platform, Dario Jurican, economist Dejan Kovac, left-wing activist Katarina Peovic, anti-establishment MP Ivan Pernar, right-wing former MP Anto Djapic, and former mayor of the small northwestern town of Klanjec, Nedjeljko Babic.

The polls closed at 7 pm, and final results are expected around 11 pm.