Zagreb: Croatia, the European Union`s newest member, has called Presidential Elections for December 28, the government said on Wednesday.
Six candidates have already announced they will run, including incumbent centrist Ivo Josipovic whose popularity with the country`s some 4.3 million residents appears to be fading.
So far polls have named Josipovic`s main rival as Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic from the leading opposition conservatives.
Grabar-Kitarovic, 46, is a former foreign and European affairs minister and a former NATO assistant secretary general who represents moderates within her HDZ party.
A run-off would be held on January 11 if one candidate fails to secure more than 50 percent of the vote, government spokesman Nikola Jelic said.
An inconclusive result is likely, according to recent polls.
Josipovic, a 57-year-old law expert, took the presidency in 2010, as the candidate of the Social Democrats, the main force of the ruling centre-left coalition.
He is Croatia`s third president since it won independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
Croatia, which became the EU`s 28th member last year, is a parliamentary democracy in which the president has limited powers.
Josipovic is among the most well-liked politicians here but his popularity has been slightly dropping due to poor economic results under the SDP-led government.
The December vote is seen as a key test of political strength namely for HDZ, which according to surveys enjoys more support than SDP, ahead of Parliamentary Elections due in late 2015.