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Croatian opposition takes lead in preliminary results

The conservative Croatian Democratic Union is set to win parliamentary elections, according to a partial vote count from the state election commission. Previously, exit polls indicated a tie with the ruling coalition.

The right-wing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and its allies are projected to win 63 out of 151 seats in the Croatian parliament, officials said after Sunday's vote.

This would give the opposition 11 more seats than the ruling coalition around the Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic.

The newcomer party "Most" is set to win third place and 17 seats, making it the most likely kingmaker in coalition talks.

"We were expecting between 9 and 12 seats - this is amazing," said a Most representative Ivan Lovrinovic.

"There will be no coalitions unless they commit to our reforms," Most's Ljubica Ambrusec said, according to N1 television. "We hope they will agree ... to improve conditions for our nation."

The party, founded three years ago, has pushed for the reform of a bloated public sector and a better business climate.

The center-left SDP said they were "open to cooperation" with Most, after an earlier exit poll

showed the two large blocks tied for the first place.

The official preliminary results are based on 14 percent of votes.

Clashing over refugees

This is the first parliamentary election in Croatia since the country joined the EU in 2013. One of the

main issues during the campaign was the refugee crisis,

even overshadowing the country's economic problems.

The nationalist-rooted HDZ, which steered Croatia to independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, has accused the Milanovic's government of being too soft on migrants.

The nationalists demanded erecting barriers to slow down the migrants passing through Croatia along the so-called Balkan route.

Four other parties also crossed the five-percent threshold needed to enter the assembly, according to the electoral commission.

dj/bk (FENA, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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