Croatia votes for new parliament

Other News Materials 25 November 2007 09:00 (UTC +04:00)

Croatia has begun voting for a new parliament which is expected to lead the country into the European Union.

More than four million people can vote, with polls predicting a tight race between ruling conservatives and opposition Social Democrats.

Voters in more than 50 countries are taking part as a significant proportion of the electorate - 400,000 people - lives abroad.

This expatriate vote is expected to play a decisive role in the outcome.

Opinion polls give a slight lead to the Social Democrats whose new leader, Zoran Milanovic, appeals to young, urban voters.

The ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) counts on the votes of older and more rural population and on the extra seats reserved for the Croatian diaspora.

Neither party is expected to win an outright majority, and a new government could only be formed after post-election coalition talks.

Ahead of the ballot a key point of contention has been the right to vote of Croatians living abroad, especially those in neighbouring Bosnia, where a third of a million people are eligible to take part in the Croatian election. ( BBC )