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Croatia mourns death of former Prime Minister Ivica Racan

Croatia mourns death of former Prime Minister Ivica Racan

Hundreds of mourners lined up Monday outside the Social Democratic Party's headquarters to sign a book of condolences for longtime party leader and former Prime Minister Ivica Racan, a day after he died of cancer at the age of 63.
Racan, once a communist leader who later headed Croatia's first genuinely pro-Western government in 2000-2003, died on Sunday night, three months after being diagnosed with kidney cancer, which then spread to his brain.
His death is certain to affect the Social Democrats' standing in the November parliamentary elections. The party, known as SDP, is ranked just behind the governing Croatian Democratic Union in surveys and was hoping to return to power.
Racan recently stepped down as SDP leader and the party is to elect a new leader on June 2. But none of its members seem to match the popularity of Racan, who led the party for 17 years, transforming it from a Communist Party to a Western-style center-left group.
U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Robert Bradke said the United States had lost a "great friend" in Racan, while the European Commission issued a statement saying the former prime minister had played a key role in moving Croatia closer to mainstream Europe.
Racan's government made a clear break with the decade-long nationalist rule of late President Franjo Tudjman, undertaking painful political and economic reforms to fulfill conditions for joining the European Union. Zagreb eventually began membership talks with the EU in late 2005.
A commemoration for Racan was to be held on Wednesday, but funeral arrangements were not disclosed as Racan had stated he wished only his family to attend it.


Updated : 2021-04-20 22:46 GMT+08:00