Croats voted in the presidential run-off poll on Sunday. Polling stations will close in the evening with exit polls due immediately afterwards. Official results are expected five hours later.
Social Democrat Ivo Josipovic beat 11 candidates in the first round on December 27th. Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic, another independent candidate, has staged a strong catch up, winning support from the Roman catholic church and many war veterans.
Opinion polls show Josipovic in the lead over Bandic.
[Milan Bandic, Presidential Candidate]:
“I have no doubt Croatian people, citizens of Croatia will choose the best candidate for the seat of presidential office.”
Josipovic’s anti-corruption platform won over many urban and liberal voters. Bandic prides himself on Zagreb’s revamped public service and is willing to work even harder.
[Ivo Josipovic, Presidential Candidate]:
“It was an honor for me to be part of the presidential race and I would like to thank all my opponents in the first round as well as my opponent in the second round, Mr. Bandic. I believe Croatian citizens will make the right choice. Thank you.”
Many Croats are hoping for a better life after the hardship of the 2009 economic crisis.
[Antonija Beribak, Unemployed Clerk]:
“So much money was wasted in the campaign which could have been better used elsewhere.”
[Miljenko Jovic, Pensioner]:
“We have one candidate who is a hard worker, that's Bandic, and then we have a man who is highly educated, that's Josipovic. If we could make a combination of the two that would be perfect, but since I come from a working background I support the worker.”
The winner will succeed veteran reformer Stjepan Mesic, whose second term ends in February.