Croatia Elects Its First Female President in Narrow Runoff

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | January 12, 2015, Monday // 09:05
Bulgaria: Croatia Elects Its First Female President in Narrow Runoff Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic (R) celebrates her victory against Ivo Josipovic in the Presidential elections in Zagreb, Croatia. Photo: EPA

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has won in the second round of elections that were held in Croatia on Sunday, becoming the country's first female president.

Grabar-Kitarovic, who is from the oppositional Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), won against incumbent Ivo Josipovic with the narrowest of margins, the BBC reports.

Grabar-Kitarovic won 50.5 % of the votes, while Josipovic attracted 49.5 %, with 99 % of the ballots counted.

The victory of the opposition might be a signal that Croatia might be leaning towards the right after the failure of the centre-left coalition to reverse the recession, which the country has recorded in the last six years.

The presidential elections served as a testing ground for the main parties before the parliamentary vote that is expected to take place towards the end of 2015.

The narrow gap between the two candidates remained throughout most of the second round, hovering around 1 %.

The voter turnout in the second round stood at 58.9 %, which represents an increase of 12 % when compared to the first round, held two weeks ago.

Grabar-Kitarovic is a conservative politician from HDZ, the party which championed Croatian independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

She is a former foreign minister and secretary to NATO's Secretary-General.

Josipovic, who has been the country's president since 2010, congratulated his opponent on the victory.

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic apologised for being a “burden” to Josipovic.

The Croatian president is head of the army and has influence in the country's foreign policy, but the government has greater powers in running the country.

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Tags: Croatia, president, election, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, HDZ, Ivo Josipovic, Zoran Milanovic, recession
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