The conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) won snap parliamentary elections at the weekend, but the party faces coalition talks with some difficult partners after its previous government proved to be short-lived.
With nearly all the ballots counted Monday morning, the HDZ has 61 of 151 seats, holding a larger-than-expected margin over the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which secured 54.
In Sunday's election, the reformist party Most again emerged as the third force in parliament with 12 seats, again allowing it to play the role of kingmaker.
After the last elections in November, Most negotiated with both big parties, before entering into a coalition with the HDZ nearly three months later.
That alliance crumbled after five months amid corruption allegations and with none of the reform promises met, leading the small party to topple the government and effectively force the HDZ to oust it leader, Tomislav Karamarko.
The new party leader, Andrej Plenkovic, immediately sought to dispel worries about further instability.
"I guarantee that the next Croatian government will be stable," he said declaring victory late Sunday. "Already tomorrow we will begin concrete negotiations for a stable cabinet."
The HDZ will need the support of more than just the Most to secure at least 76 votes in the legislature. However, the odds of it forming a coalition look good, with eight legislators with reserved seats representing ethnic minorities expected to join, bringing the tally to 81.
On Sunday, 52 per cent of the 3.8 million voters cast ballots, 9 per cent down from last elections, demonstrating their discontent with the politicians following a campaign largely focused on political smearing.