Croatia has held an election despite increasing coronavirus infections and a sharp economic downturn from the pandemic.
Polling stations was opened at 0500 GMT on Sunday July 5, 2020, and will be close at 1700 GMT when the exit polls will be released. The first preliminary official results are expected around two hours later.
Prime Minister and HDZ leader, Andrej Plenkovic, told supporters this week, pointing at his two top opponents’ lack of vision and experience that, “At these challenging times both for public health and the economy, Croatia deserves to be led by experienced and responsible people. ”
“My choice is Skoro as I believe his party wants stability and to stop the young people from moving to seek jobs abroad,” said Ilija Grlic, a voter from the Zagreb area.
The new government faces a herculean task to keep a grip on the coronavirus, restore the economy that will likely shrink some 10% this year.
“I think that the SDP could be a relative winner, but that the HDZ could be the one to eventually form a (coalition) cabinet,” said Kristijan, a teacher, before casting a ballot.
Some analysts believe that the two biggest parties may be forced to join forces, as the alternative of trying to form a stable government with junior partners, such as Skoro’s Homeland or the conservative Most (Bridge) party, may prove difficult.
Both Plenkovic and Bernardic have firmly rejected the idea of a “grand coalition”.
Croatia has reported 3,000 COVID-19 cases and around 100 deaths recorded so far — but infections have accelerated in the past two weeks, with the daily number of new cases currently peaking at around 80.