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Nov 25, 2007 20:21 EEST
ZAGREB (Croatia), November 25 (SeeNews) – Main opposition Social Democrats have a slight edge over the ruling conservative HDZ party in Sunday's parliamentary elections in Croatia, exit polls indicated after voting stations closed.
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has captured 36.6% of the vote and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has gathered 33.5%, showed a survey of more than 26,000 voters conducted by polling agency Mediana, Nova TV broadcaster reported.
Voter turnout was 48.13% on the territory of Croatia by 4 p.m. local time (1500 GMT), or three hours before polling stations closed. A total of 4.07 million Croats are eligible to vote in Croatia plus 405,092 in the diaspora, mainly in neighbouring Bosnia.
The state electoral commission will announce the first partial results of the vote after 9 p.m. (2000 GMT).
Whichever of the two main contenders wins, it will need to seek to enter a coalition with smaller parties to form a government.
Analysts have agreed that risks for the country's economic stability from the upcoming elections are low, as the main challenges ahead of the new government - fight against corruption, restructuring of the economy, reforms of the judiciary and the public administration - are all determined by Croatia's EU accession process.
Croatia started EU accession talks in October 2005 and hopes to join the bloc by the end of the decade. The country expects to receive an invitation for NATO membership next year. Both SDP and HDZ support Croatia’s membership of the EU and NATO but SDP says a referendum should be held to decide whether the country should join the military alliance.
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