AFP - The main opposition Social Democrat candidate leads in the polls for Croatia's presidential election on Sunday, while few expect the ruling conservative HDZ contender to make it to the second round.
But other contenders, including the mayor of Zagreb and a former member of the ruling HDZ are also in the running.
Following are short profiles of some of the presidential hopefuls:
IVO JOSIPOVIC, 52: Josipovic, the candidate of the main opposition Social Democrats (SDP) has enjoyed an average 15-point lead in opinion polls and is expected reach the second-round run-off. Josipovic was born and educated in Zagreb, where he graduated with law and music degrees, going on to become both a legal expert and a composer of classical music. He specialises in criminal and international criminal law, lecturing at Zagreb University's law faculty. Josipovic was elected to parliament in 2003 after a nine-year absence from politics. Analysts have pointed to what they say is Josipovic's reputation for competence and an untarnished political career. But some have suggested he lacks charisma and describe his approach as too half-hearted. Josipovic has run his campaign under the slogan "Justice for Croatia," insisting on the need to fight corruption.
NADAN VIDOSEVIC, 49: Vidosevic was a veteran member of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) before quitting to run as an independent. And despite his defection, he is likely to get the support of his ex-party's liberal wing. Born in the coastal town of Split, Vidosevic graduated there with an economics degree before launching his business career. He held economic portfolios between 1993 and 1995, and from 1995 he led the Croatian Chamber of Economy. Vidosevic is focusing on economic recovery stressing his business success. He is personally wealthy and regarded as good speaker, but some analysts have suggested his credibility could be jeopardized by doubts of how he made his money. Vidosevic puts it down to hard work and his smart investment skills.
MILAN BANDIC, 54: Bandic, the mayor of Zagreb, is also running as an independent. Although a former SDP official, his conservative viewpoint has strained his relations with the party. Bandic studied politics at Zagreb university and first won the mayoralty in 2000. Forced to step down for three years after a drink-driving scandal, he styles himself as an "ordinary man of flesh and blood." During the election campaign Bandic mostly avoided confrontations with his rivals, arguing he was the "man of deeds and not of words." But some journalists have investigated him in relation to city hall corruption allegations and accused him of incompetence. Some commentators have meanwhile criticised what they say is his failure to make clear statements on key issues. Bosnian-born Bandic is nevertheless expected to attract significant support among the 268,000 ethnic Croats living in Bosnia, where he conducted a significant part of his campaign.
ANDRIJA HEBRANG, 63: The ruling HDZ's candidate is not thought likely to make the run-off, and polls suggest that traditional HDZ vote will be split between Vidosevic, Bandic and another former HDZ member, Dragan Primorac, running as an independent. Serbian-born Hebrang studied medicine at Zagreb University, where he now lectures. An HDZ member since the party was founded in 1990, he was the personal doctor of autocratic late president Franjo Tudjman as well as health minister and, briefly, defence minister in the 1990s. Reappointed health minister in 2003, Hebrang resigned two years later due to prostate cancer. He has campaigned on a promise to "honour traditional values" regarding Croatia's 1991-1995 war of independence from the former Yugoslavia, but political analysts describe him as a spent force.