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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 28,322 22,421 20,300 61
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 5,350 4,640 4,550 70
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 127 - (21/12/07)

New Croatian government
Ivo Sanader, Croatia's centre-right prime minister, says he will accept the mandate to form the government for the next four years, the critical phase when the country of 4.5m hopes to achieve accession to the European Union. It is the one non-EU country that has a realistic chance of that goal soon.

The president, Stjepan Mesic, authorised Mr Sanader on December 15 to form a new governing coalition based on the final count from closely contested November 25 parliamentary elections. The prime minister - whose centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) edged ahead of its main rival, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SDP) - has promised to muster a stable majority in the 153-seat chamber.

"He assured me he has the support of 77 elected parliamentary deputies," Mr Mesic said. The HDZ holds 66 seats - 10 more than the SDP, yet still 11 short of a majority. Mr Sanader appears close to forming a cabinet with the third-place Liberal-Peasant list and could also, as he did before, bring aboard parties for ethnic minorities, including Serbs

But problems behind and ahead
But he could find himself politically weaker than in the past four years, when he ruled through a minority coalition in which the HDZ retained all cabinet ministries.

Mr Sanader steered his party away from its hard-line nationalist origins under Franjo Tudjman, the autocratic president who led Croatia to independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 and decisively defeated the ethnic Serb rebels who seized around a third of the new state's territory.

Support from ethnic Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who voted in a diaspora electoral unit, boosted the HDZ's narrow lead in Croatia.

While Mr Sanader will remain prime minister, the elections show Croatia's maturity as a democracy with smooth rotation of power. The SDP - the descendant of the communist party that ruled exclusively until 1990 - this time achieved its best result yet in multi-party elections, suggesting continued "bipolarity" in future contests, said Davor Butkovic, political columnist for the Zagreb daily, Jutarnji List. 

Zoran Milanovic, who won the centre-left party's leadership six months ago, said he would respect the constitution and President Mesic's decision. The president could still transfer the mandate to Mr Milanovic if Mr Sanader fails to form a government within 30 days.

The new SDP leader said he could form a wider centre-left coalition, although he has faced renewed dissent within his own party after naming himself as the prospective prime minister, setting aside the consensus candidate he had nominated during the election campaign, Ljubo Jurcic.

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