02/01/2005 - Results - 1st round
Contrary to forecasts made by the opinion polls the Croatian presidential election was not settled in the first round on 2nd January. The outgoing President of the Republic Stjepan Mesic failed by a narrow margin to win an absolute majority of the votes: he won 48.9% versus 20.3% for his main rival Social Affairs Minister, Jadranska Kosor (Croat Democratic Community, HDZ). To everyone's surprise businessman Boris Miksic came third in the first round of this election winning 17.7% of the vote. Many political analysts believe that this result, rather than showing true support of the businessman, represents a vote of protest against the entire political community.
Boris Miksic, who had been declared in second position by some polls ahead of Jadranska Kosor, challenged the official election results during a press conference, "the elections were manipulated. Votes were stolen from me". The president of the Electoral Commission, Ivica Crnic, believes Boris Miksic's accusations are unfounded. The businessman may however lodge a complaint with the Constitutional Court that, in turn, will have 48 hours to take a decision.
The participation rate rose to 51%, i.e. 13 points less than during the first round of the previous presidential election on 23rd January 2000.
The outgoing President of the Republic said he was very happy with his result that he qualified as a "brilliant victory". He also said he was confident of his victory in the second round of the election that will take place on 16th January. "I have led Croatia to the threshold of Europe and now I shall lead her inside", he emphasised.
Stjepan Mesic is to continue his campaign on the danger that a victory by the Democratic Community (HDZ) candidate would represent for the country - the latter winning the general elections on 23rd November 2003 and whose leader, Ivo Sanader is the present head of government. "The citizens are aware that they should not put all their eggs in the same basket. They know that for the development of Croatian democracy it would be dangerous to concentrate power in the hands of a single party", repeated Stjepan Mesic during his campaign.
Jadranska Kosor for her part, expressed her joy at facing the outgoing President during the second round. "Any other result would have meant defeat", she maintained. "We are moving forwards. My electorate proved that Croatia is mature enough to see a woman as President of the Republic", she added calling for major mobilisation for the second round.
On 16th January, Jadranska Kosor will have to count on the votes of the nationalist electorate, who voted in favour of the extreme rightwing during the first round. The Democratic Community (HDZ) candidate has never hidden her admiration of Franjo Tudjman, the former President of the Republic (1991-1999) and hero of the country's independence. She has incidentally promised that, if she is elected, the first thing she will do will be visit the former President's tomb. In addition to this her first political action as President of the Republic will be to reduce the Presidency's operating budget by 30%; the sums of money saved will be used to finance youth projects. Stjepan Mesic for his part has promised, if he wins, to invest more in the economic sector, notably in order to attract foreign investment in areas of Croatia that are still suffering in the aftermath of the war with Serbia.
The outgoing President, who enjoys a comfortable margin over his main rival, will stand as an independent candidate but has the support of the leftwing opposition parties and should in all probability be re-elected in the second round on 16th January next.
Results of the first round of the Croatian presidential election 2nd January 2005
Participation rate: 51%
Source: Agence France-Presse
* : Eight other candidates stood in this election and won a very low number of votes.