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Croatia: Mesic Wins Presidential Election

Zagreb, 8 February 2000 (RFE/RL) - Veteran politician Stipe Mesic won 56 percent of the votes against his rival, Drazen Budisa's, 44 percent in yesterday's run-off elections. The victory in Croatia's presidential elections of centrist Mesic seemed to put a final seal on the era of the country's late authoritarian leader, Franjo Tudjman. Both candidates had campaigned on similar policies of courting European Union and NATO membership, democratizing politics, curbing presidential powers and cooperating with the UN's war crimes investigations.

Mesic, like Budisa, belongs to one of the coalition parties that, in last month's parliamentary elections, ended nine years of rule by Tudjman's nationalist Croatian Democratic Community.

The 65-year-old Mesic was Croatia's representative in the last Yugoslav collective presidency before conflict erupted.

He joined Tudjman in Croatia's fight for independence but fell out with him later because of Tudjman's ambitions to annex the Croatian-populated section of Bosnia. Mesic will be inaugurated in ten days.