Croatia sets date for elections

Dec. 1, 2004 at 6:05 AM

ZAGREB, Croatia, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The Croatian government has decided to hold presidential elections on January 2, 2005, the Vecernji List newspaper reported Wednesday.

Parliamentary elections are due to be held in spring of the same year.

Sitting President Stjepan Mesic is widely tipped to win the presidential poll. Mesic is a reformist who is supported by the main opposition parties. His opponent will likely come from the Croatian Democratic Union, which is the ruling party in the government.

The role of the president in Croatia is mainly ceremonial.

Croatia hopes to join the European Union sometime between 2007 and 2009, possibly alongside Romania and Bulgaria, which head the pack in the race to join the EU in its next wave of expansion.

If Croatia's bid is successful it will become the second of the former constituent republics of the former Yugoslavia to make it into the EU.

Slovenia joined on May 1 this year along with nine other, mainly former communist, countries.

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