Croatia voted for a presidential election on December 22 which is considered to weaken the ruling conservatives as the nation set to lead the European Union. The results of the pre-Christmas polls is likely to be declared on January 5 which has evolved into a tight race between conservative incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and the main rivals on the right and the left.
Grabar-Kitarovic has been president since 2015 with support from HDZ, which is a center right party leading Croatia since its independence since 1991. During her term, she has become unsteady representing the party's moderates and satisfying to its nationalist faction. Grabar-Kitarovic conducted her final campaign rally on Friday in eastern Vukovar. Her comments for those who fought and died in the war were seen as a part of her battle to attract far-right voters from turning to her opposition Miroslav Skoro.
Grabar-Kitarovic, during her five years in office, not only had a very concrete impact on domestic policy but has been criticised for trying to promote herself through populist rhetoric. She somewhat had more impact on foreign policy, especially through her "Three Seas Initiative". The initiative is a forum of twelve states in the European Union that aims to create a regional dialogue on a variety of issues affecting the member states. The member states are Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
The election witnessed the incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, a candidate of the ruling center-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) go up against the candidate of the Social Democrats and former prime minister Zoran Milanovic. Two independent candidates also had solid support in the polls. An opinion poll indicated that during the first round of the vote Grabar-Kitarovic can expect the support of some 29 per cent of voters while social democrats candidate Milanovic is a close second with 24 per cent. While Miroslav Skoro, a popular singer who is largely seen as the candidate of the right-wing nationalist conservatives came third with 17 per cent and the former judge Mislav Kolakusic came fourth with 14 per cent.