The first female president in Croatia’s history was recently voted into power in a run-off election. The state electoral commission said that after they counted approximately 97 percent of the votes, conservative Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, a former foreign minister, ambassador to Washington and an ex-assistant to the NATO secretary general, won with 50.54 percent of the votes over her rival, President Ivo Josipovic with 49.46 percent.
Garbar-Kitarovic’s win of a five-year term was seen a major test for the country’s center-left government, especially during the deep discontent over current economic woes and criticism over its handling of the crisis.
A conservative shift could see Croatia back to right-wing nationalism, jeopardizing relations with wartime rivals Serbia and Balkan. However, Grabar-Kitarovic’s win also boosts the chances of putting her center-right Croatian Democratic Union back in power.
The run-off was called because neither candidate acquired the more than 50 percent needed for an outright win. While the vote was expected to be close, her slight-margin win of about 21,000 votes came from Croats living abroad.
Law professor and composer of classical music, Josipovic, accepted defeat saying Grabar-Kitarovic won in a “democratic competition.”
During her victory speech, Grabar-Kitarovic, said that this was “a glorious night for all Croats.”
She pointed out that Josipovic did not do anything to stop the country’s ecomic downturn, which resulted in a 20 percent unemployment rate. “I will work for Croatia, and I won’t allow anyone saying that Croatia will not be a prosperous country,” she said.