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ZAGREB (Croatia), December 23 (SeeNews) - Opposition candidate Zoran Milanovic won the first round of Croatia's presidential election but fell short of 50% majority and will face incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in a runoff vote next month, the state electoral commission said on Monday.
Based on 99.98% of the ballots counted, Milanovic, a former Croatian prime minister, garnered 29.55% support in the first round of the election held on Sunday versus 26.65% for Grabar-Kitarovic, DIP announced on its website.
Third with 24.45% came musician Miroslav Skoro, the results showed.
Opposition centre-left Social Democratic Party (SDP) is backing Milanovic, while the governing centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) supports Grabar-Kitarovic.
Skoro is believed to also appeal to HDZ supporters as well as younger Croatian voters.
Milanovic will face Grabar-Kitarovic in the second round, to be held on January 5.
Prior to the election, opinion polls have predicted a tight race among the three leading candidates, although indicating Grabar-Kitarovic as a narrow winner of most votes in the first round.
Still, the opinion polls did expect a runoff between Grabar-Kitarovic and Milanovic.
DIP said that the voter turnout in the Adriatic state of some 4.0 million people was 51.20%.