In a result defying pre-election polling, Ivica Puljak, the candidate of ALDE Party member Centar for the Mayor of Split, Croatia’s second largest city, won the largest number of votes in the first round on 16 May with 26.8% and will contest the second-round run-off on 30 May.
Mr Puljak finished ahead of Vice Mihanović, the candidate of the ruling party HDZ (23.25%) and former Mayor Željko Kerum (14.98%), whose HGS party has been in a coalition with the HDZ in the Split City Council for the past four years.
A renowned scientist and professor, Mr Puljak was one of the several thousand scientists who participated in the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland in the long-term discovery of the Higgs boson. His wife, Marijana, a member of the Croatian Parliament and Alliance of Her alumna, was the founder of the Pametno party in Split, which merged into Centar in 2020.
Speaking to media after the results, he said: “We expect the citizens to decide for themselves whether they want Split in the hands of politicians guided by private interests, who have shown it countless times so far, or a new city leadership with positive ambition and energy, whose only intention is to take care of the public interest and long-term development of Split.”
Elsewhere in Croatia, ALDE member party Istarski demokratski sabor (IDS) won 42.68% of the vote for the regional Council in Istria remaining the largest party and contesting the second round including Pula, and Hrvatska socijalno-liberalna stranka (HSLS) party leader Dario Hrebak was re-elected as the Mayor of Bjelovar in the first round winning 66.86% of the vote.
The second round of local elections will take place on 30 May.
Photo credit: Marijana Puljak