Croatia's government decided to set the date for the first round of presidency elections for December 22, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday in a government meeting. Although the main candidates - including incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic - are already on the campaign trail, Croatian law states that the 'official campaign' in the run-up to the first round will last two weeks.
Plenkovic added that this meant that the official deadlines will start running on November 21-22. After that date, all candidates will have to start collecting 10,000 signatures - a condition required by law in order to formally submir their candidacy - and after the petitions are verified and okayed by the election commission, the campaign will last until December 20.
If any candidate wins 50 percent plus one of the votes cast, they will be declared outright winner. If no candidate wins simple majority, the top two candidates will enter a run-off on January 5.
And the run-off seems likely. Incumbent Grabar-Kitarovic who will seek her second term, supported by Plenkovic's ruling conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), is currently in the lead with her rating at around 28 percent, according to the most recent poll released by RTL television earlier this month.
She is followed by former Prime Minister, Zoran Milanovic, supported by the centre-left Social Democrats (SDP), the largest opposition party, who is at 24 percent.
Singer Miroslav Skoro, supported by a variety of right-wing and anti-establishment groups, is polling at close to 17 percent, with former court judge and another anti-establishment candidate, MEP Mislav Kolakusic, estimated to take around 14 percent.
The President is largely a ceremonial figure in Croatia's political system.