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Croatia gets first female president

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Belgrade, Jan 13: Opposition leader Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic became the first female president of Croatia on Sunday after she narrowly beat incumbent Ivo Josipovic in a run-off election.

While Grabar-Kitarovic of the Croatian Democratic Union got 50.5 per cent of the ballots, her opponent got 49.5 per cent. Ninety-nine per cent of the ballots were counted, a BBC report said.

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Josipovic, who was in office since 2010, conceded defeat and congratulated the opponent.

The turnout in the second round of polling was 58.9%, which is about 12% more than in the first round held two weeks ago.

The conservative challenger's victory could indicate a shift in Croatia's move towards the right after the ruling centre-left coalition's failure to end six years of economic under-performance. Croatia, which joined the European Union in July 2013, has an unemployment rate near about 20 per cent.

The latest election is a key test for the country's main political parties ahead of the parliamentary election due to be held towards the end of this year.

The Croatian Democratic Union played a major role in pushing the country towards independence from former Yugoslavia in 1991 and Grabar-Kitarovic, 46, is a former foreign minister and assistant to the Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg.

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