Croatia presidential candidates head to a runoff with no outright winner
 Tbilisi 12:22 - 29.12.14 «GHN»
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With both major candidates failing to get 50 percent of the vote, Croatia will have a runoff election in January. Incumbent President Ivo Josipovic faces tough criticism over the country's lagging economy, reports GHN based on DW.
Exit polls indicate that Croatia's President Ivo Josipovic (pictured above) will face a runoff election against his conservative rival on January 11, after neither achieved a majority in Sunday's presidential ballot.
Estimates put the center-left incumbent at 38.9 percent, neck-and-neck with his main challenger Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, at 38.1 percent.
Although the president has limited powers, the contest is a key hurdle for Croatia's political parties before parliamentary elections next year. The newest nation to enter the European Union is also one of its economically weakest. After six years of recession, unemployment is close to 20 percent and public debt is 80 percent of GDP.
Josipovic is a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the leading member of the ruling coalition which has received much flak for the sagging economy. The party is accused of failing to carry out the necessary reforms on the country's bloated public sector and failing to encourage investment. Josipovic himself has been criticized for not taking a strong enough stance on important issues.
Josipovic ‘shares the blame'
Grabar-Kitarovic, a member of the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, is the former foreign affairs minister and was once assistant to NATO's secretary general.
She had no trouble reminding voters of Josipovic's connection to the unpopular government, saying: "He shares the blame with the government for the bad situation since he remained silent and did nothing."


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