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Croatia: Ruling Coalition Leads In Elections

Zagreb, 21 May 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Preliminary unofficial results show Croatia's ruling six-party coalition to be ahead in yesterday's local and regional elections. But the nationalist Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) of the late President Franjo Tudjman was the second strongest party overall.

With about 30 percent of votes counted, the coalition led in 15 of 21 counties. The vote was for seats in 21 county and 422 municipal councils as well as 123 city halls.

In many local communities, the HDZ remained the strongest single party, partly because coalition partners decided to run on their own to test their relative strength ahead of an expected cabinet reshuffle.

The HDZ, which previously controlled 16 counties, will now form its own local government -- in coalition with other right-wing parties -- in at least two counties.

Prime Minister Ivica Racan's center-left coalition took over last year following Tudjman's death and the defeat of the HDZ in a parliamentary and presidential vote.

Turnout was reported low with only a few incidents reported.