Opposition lawyer bids for Croatian presidency
An opposition candidate who pledges to fight corruption -- a crucial issue in Croatia's bid for European Union membership -- looks likely to win the country's presidential election runoff ballot on Sunday.
Social Democrat Ivo Josipovic, a 52-year-old law professor and composer who convincingly beat 11 candidates in the first round on December 27, retained a clear lead in the latest opinion polls over maverick Zagreb mayor Milan Bandic.
Both men support Croatia's aim of completing EU accession talks this year and joining the bloc in 2011 or 2012.
Opinion polls give Josipovic 52 to 55 percent of the vote, compared to between 38 and 45 percent for Bandic, but the race -- which comes as Croatia enters the final stage of its EU accession talks -- is far from decided.
Bandic has made up ground on Josipovic and won the support of the powerful Roman Catholic church and many veterans of the 1990s war that broke up the former Yugoslavia.
"The final battle is on Sunday and I expect to win," Bandic said on Friday.
The last week of the campaign was largely overshadowed by troubles in the ruling conservative HDZ party.
The HDZ, led by popular Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, expelled her predecessor, Ivo Sanader, who announced a political comeback last Sunday with stinging criticism of the party leadership and the government.
none over the economy or legislation.