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Croatia - 2019 President Election

The function of the Croatian president is largely ceremonial apart from a formal role in foreign policy as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and as co-decision maker with the Prime Minister on the naming of many ambassadors and the chief of the intelligence service. The president is the head of state and is elected by direct popular vote for a term of 5 years. The president is limited to serving no more than two terms.

The Croatian parliament in 2000 under an SDP-led government substantially reduced the powers of the presidency in the aftermath of the highly-centralized rule of Croatia's first President Franjo Tudjman.

Despite the reduced stature of the presidency, president Stjepan Mesic by force of his own reputation and gravitas - as Croatia's first Prime Minister, the last president of the former Yugoslavia, and one of the first Speakers of Parliament - was able to wield a great deal of informal authority and act as a check on the power of the government.

However, his successors, were unable to preserve such a level of influence, and the role of the presidency could be increasingly be confined to ceremonial duties. Nonetheless, the presidency undeniably provides the winner with a bully pulpit by which presidents can inject their thoughts into public debate and have some influence in domestic policy.

The incumbent President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, took office on 19 February 2015 and her term is due to end on 18 February 2020. If Grabar-Kitarovic serves out her term in full until that date, the new presidential term will begin on 19 February 2020 and will be due to end on 18 February 2025. Also, she will be eligible for re-election to a second and final five-year term in this election. Ivo Josipovic, her predecessor as president, is also eligible to run for re-election to a second and final term, as he was defeated in the 2015 elections after serving only one term from 2010 until 2015.

By January 2018, though there are still two years left for presidential elections, several candidates were speculating. The story is further troubled by Zoran Milanovic's response, which does not want to clearly determine if he or she is in the race for Pantovcak. Opposition is slowly forming an initiative to have only one candidate who could win Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic.

Two years before the presidential election, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic had not said clearly whether she will start the race for the second term, but showed his actions as if he was already in the pre-campaign.

It had been speculating for a long time that an anti-candidate could be former Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic. "I do not think about it and I do not know if I will go to the presidential race, I do not get itching." I went into politics and became president of the party as an outsider, " said Zoran Milanovic.

Just as Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic needed a HDZ support for a successful campaign, Milanovic should have been behind the SDP. In the SDP, their candidate should be elected on the pre-election. "If Milanovic decides to run, I believe that a large part of SDP's will support such a decision, and Milanovic, I think, is acceptable to left and right voters," says Joko Klisovic.

Ivan Sincic was a candidate in 2015 and says he could be in the race again. "I do not think about it, but I have learned not to say hard to say no," says Anka Mrak Tarita, who believes that the opposition should have one candidate. "If our ultimate goal is that Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic does not enter the second term, we must fight for the final goal, and then less important is who is smarter and has a better candidate," says Mrak Tarita.

Only four candidates competed in the previous presidential elections. There is already speculation about a much larger number now.

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