Croatia’s conservatives ousted from power

Posted December 4th, 2011 at 8:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Croatian voters have ousted the ruling conservatives in Sunday's parliamentary elections, handing the center-left opposition bloc a mandate to overhaul the economy before the country joins the European Union next year.

With more than 50 percent of the votes counted, official results show the opposition “Kukuriku” coalition will take 76 seats in Croatia's 151-seat parliament. The conservative Croatian Democratic Union, or HDZ, will take 47 seats.

The results mean that the next Croatian prime minister will be Zoran Milanovic, the 45-year-old leader of the Social Democratic Party.

Election officials were quoted as saying 46 percent of the electorate had cast ballots three hours before polling stations closed.

The conservative Croatian Democratic Union has ruled the country for all but two years since the 1990s war for independence from the former Yugoslav federation. But the HDZ has seen its popularity decline as it became embroiled in a series of corruption scandals, including its alleged involvement in illegal fundraising for previous elections.