May 20, 2020 / 11:08 AM / 16 days ago

Croatia president calls parliamentary election for July 5

Croatia's President Zoran Milanovic wears a face mask before his visit to the tents which are built for patients who will have coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Dubrava hospital in Zagreb, Croatia, March 21, 2020. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic on Wednesday called a parliamentary election for July 5, a statement issued by his office said.

The election will pit the ruling centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) against the top opposition Social Democrats (SDP) party, which is trailing slightly in opinion polls. Neither party is expected to win an outright majority, so a coalition government with smaller parties is almost certain.

According to the latest opinion poll, the HDZ has the support of around 30% of voters, while the SDP would get around 28%. The third force is a nationalist and eurosceptic block around the Domovinski Pokret (Homeland Movement) party led by a popular singer, Miroslav Skoro, which is supported by some 10% of voters.

The future government will have an uphill task to spark a recovery in an economy that is expected to shrink 9.4% this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and its strong negative effect on tourism, which accounts for almost 20% of Croatia’s output.

Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Alex Richardson

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