Photograph: HINA/ Daniel KASAP / dk

Candidates of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) for the next parliamentary election in Constituency No. 1, who on Monday visited the children's hospital in Klaiceva Street, Zagreb, warned about a dwindling population in Croatia.

The first candidate on the HDZ slate for that constituency, Zeljko Reiner, said that this party would pursue a high birth-rate policy and that caring for sick children was one of the segments of the HDZ election agenda, promising the construction of a new state-of-the-art hospital for children.

"Croatia is faced with the fact that its population is dwindling. Last year, fewer than 39,000 children were born, while more than 52,000 people died. The gap was 11,000 (in 2014), and so far this year, this gap has exceeded 13,000," Reiner said.

We cannot stand calm and ignore the fact that Croatia's population is growing smaller, and therefore we have prepared a set of birthrate boosting measures to alleviate this problem, he added.

Apart from one-off assistance of 1,000 euros for each newborn child, the HDZ has envisaged in its election programme removing the current cap on monthly payments to women from the sixth to the 12th month of their maternity leave, and plans to ensure a monthly payment for women who are in the category of "stay-at-home" mothers with more than four children.

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