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Croats will elect their first 12 MEPs on April 14, President Ivo Josipovic announced on Friday.
Josipovic has scheduled European parliamentary elections in Croatia under a law which says Croatia should elect European MPs before it joins the European Union on July 1. The country has the right to 12 MPs in the European parliament.
The MEPs elected on April 14 will hold their seats until regular European parliamentary elections next spring, when new Croatian MEPs will be elected, as in the rest of the EU.
Josipovic said the elections were crucial. "Our citizens will be electing representatives for the first time to the European Parliament. Those elections have great symbolical importance," he said.
Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said voters need to select their representatives with care. "Those MPs will allow us to decide on our broader homeland, Europe, which will have a great impact on our narrower homeland, Croatia," she said.
The worry is that a low turnout could harm the credibility of the first Croatian elections to the European Parliament.
Josipovic admitted that a low turnout was "possible", but added: "It depends on how the parties and candidates motivate the voters to vote".
So far, four electoral lists are likely to compete: the centre-left Social Democratic Party, SDP, the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, the Croatian labour party list, and the independent list of Ivan Jakovcic, a politician from the coastal region of Istria.
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