The two main candidates for Croatia’s prime minister cast their ballot in the country’s snap election which is unlikely to result in a clear win. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
Croats vote in snap election, new coalition cabinet looming
ROUGH CUT – NATURAL (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
Croats choose a government on Sunday (September 11) for the second time in less than a year, and polls predict a close outcome and another coalition that lacks a clear mandate to push through painful cuts and restructuring being urged by European authorities.
Almost 7,000 polling stations will close at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT). The first preliminary official results are expected around 10 p.m. (2000 GMT), but exit polls after the end of the vote may prove a good indicator.
A Social Democrat-led four-party alliance stands to win about 60 of 151 seats in a fragmented parliament, while its conservative rival, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), should be a few seats behind, the opinion polls say.
That would leave them seeking support from the center-right Most (Bridge) party, also the kingmaker after last November’s elections, which wants to end the 20-year dominance of the big parties it accuses of clientelism and corruption.
The previous HDZ/Most coalition collapsed after just five months amid rows over political appointments, public administration reforms and a conflict of interest case.
Under former Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, the SDP hopes to wrest control from the short-lived technocratic government, but the HDZ hopes a new leader, European Parliamentarian Andrej Plenkovic, can make up lost ground and renew the coalition.
Any government faces an enormous task in revitalizing one of the European Union’s weakest economies, dominated by state enterprises and where red tape deters private investment.