Opposition Social Democrat Ivo Josipovic convincingly won Sunday's Croatian presidential election, promising to help the government's efforts to complete European Union membership talks and join the bloc in 2012.
Josipovic, a law expert and classical music composer who is relatively inexperienced in high politics, won 60.3 percent of the vote in the second round run-off, the state electoral commission said early on Monday.
He will be Croatia's third president since independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.
Populist Zagreb mayor Milan Bandic, backed by the Roman Catholic church and more conservative voters, took 39.7 percent of the vote as an independent candidate. He was expelled from the Social Democrats for insisting on running for president against the party's will.
"I want an uncompromising fight against corruption and organised crime. That is what I promised, that is what we'll achieve," Josipovic said, to the cheers of his supporters.
"I strongly believe that we all want a better Croatia with more justice, that we want a country where work is paid for and crime is punished," he said.
The candidate of the ruling conservative HDZ party failed to make it to the runoff.
"I believe Josipovic will support the government's efforts and that we'll cooperate well for the well-being of all our citizens," Kosor said on Monday.
But Social Democrat chief Zoran Milanovic, boosted by his candidate's victory, pointed to problems ahead, mainly in the struggling economy which contracted 6 percent last year.
"I am inviting the prime minister to meet and start discussing the serious problems, the unrealistic budget. We obviously want to continue spending more than we have, which cannot go on," he said.
Josipovic will succeed veteran reformer Stjepan Mesic, whose second five-year term ends in February. He will have limited powers over foreign policy, defence and the intelligence services but none over the economy or legislation.
Last Mod: 11 Ocak 2010, 11:59