国际英语新闻:2ndLD-Writethru:ZoranMilanovicleadingCroatia'spresidentialelections:exitpolls

ZAGREB,Dec.22(Xinhua)--UpdatedexitpollsshowedthatformerprimeministerandSocialDemocraticcandidateZoranMilanovicisaheadofothercontendersinthefirstroundofCroatianpresidentialelectiononSunday,gaining28.69percentofthevote.

IncumbentPresidentKolindaGrabar-Kitarovicisbehindhimwith25.63percentofthevote,whileindependentcandidateMiroslavSkorogot24.26percent.Theothereightcandidatesarefarbehind,withthefourth-placecandidatewinning6.23percent.

CroatianvotersbegantocasttheirballotsinthepresidentialelectiononSundaymorning.Theupdatedexitpollswerereleasednearlyonehourafterpollingstationsclosedat7p.m.localtime(1800GMT).

Themarginforerroroftheexitpollsis1.3percent.

Grabar-Kitarovicisrunningforthesecondfive-yeartermasthecandidateofCroatianDemocraticUnion(HDZ),therulingcenter-rightparty.Milanovicisbackedbythecenter-leftSocialDemocraticParty(SDP).Skoroisapopularsingerwhoisrunningasaright-wingindependentcandidate.

Milanovic'scampaignmanager,OrsatMiljenic,toldmediaherethat"IexpectZorantowinwhoeverhewillfaceinthesecondround."

CroatianParliamentSpeakerGordanJandrokovic,memberoftherulingHDZ,saidthattheyareveryoptimisticregardingthesecondround."WebelievethatGrabar-Kitarovicwillwininthesecondround,butitwillbeadifficultrace,"JandrokovictoldNovaTV.

Croatia'spresidentiselectedbyamajorityvoteeveryfiveyears.Ifnoneofthecandidatesobtainsover50percentofthevoteinthefirstroundofvoting,asecondroundwillbeheldonJan.5,2020forthetoptwocandidates.

Over3.8millionvotersareeligibletochoosetheirpresidentforthenextfiveyearsamong11candidates.

Arecordnumberof24,270observersareoverseeingtheworkofelectoralcommitteesonSunday.AccordingtotheStateElectoralCommission(DIP),atotalof1.343millionor38.82percentofeligiblevotershadcasttheirballotsby4:30p.m.,103,000morethanatthesamehourfiveyearsago.

ThefirstofficialresultsareexpectedtocomeoutlateronSunday,whiletheofficialfinalresultswillbeannouncedonMonday.Enditem

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