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Croatians Set to Vote Sunday in Unpredictable Parliamentary Election

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Croatia faces another unpredictable parliamentary election on Sunday, with the ruling center-left Social Democratic (SDP) party running neck-and-neck with the right-wing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — A total of 2,311 candidates from 166 parties will be vying for mandates in the 151-seat Croatian parliament, although no party is predicted to gain a majority.

Voting starts at 7 a.m. local time (6:00GMT). First preliminary results are expected as early as three hours after polling stations close at 7 p.m. Some 3.8 million Croatians are eligible to vote.

People get out of a bus in front of a registration center for migrants and refugees in Opatovac, Croatia, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 - Sputnik International
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Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and his SDP party are largely expected to share power with the former Defense Minister Tomislav Karamarko’s opposition HDZ party after the election.

The ongoing migrant crisis, which hit Croatia earlier this year after Hungary closed its border to thousands of Syrian refugees diverting the flow, has been high on the agenda during the election campaign.

Rivals used the migrant issue to sidestep pressing economic issues, like the need to cut the country’s budget deficit and tackle the national debt.

"None of this was discussed during pre-election debates," Croatia’s former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor told Sputnik. "All talks boiled down to who loves Croatia more."

Europe is facing a major refugee crisis as hundreds of thousands of refugees from crisis-torn countries in North Africa and the Middle East, fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. Some 320,000 refugees crossed into Croatia this year, according to the Interior Ministry.

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