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Croatian Presidential Election Set for Sunday

Croatians go to the polls Sunday for a presidential election pitting incumbent Stipe Mesic against 12 challengers.

The 70-year old Mr. Mesic leads in opinion polls with support hovering around 50 percent. His main rival is conservative Deputy Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, who trails in the polls by about 30 points.

If no candidate wins outright on Sunday, a run-off election will be held January 16.

Mr. Mesic was first elected in 2000, following the death of autocratic nationalist Franjo Tudjman. Over the past four years, Mr. Mesic has moved Croatia towards European Union membership, and accession talks are scheduled to begin in March.

Ms. Kosor, a strong supporter of conservative Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, has also embraced the goal of EU membership. Her party overwhelmingly won parliamentary elections last year.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.