Croats are heading to the polls on April 14, for the first time in the history of their country, to elect 12 deputies to the European Parliament to represent them until the European elections in May 2014. Two-and-a-half months after their country joined the EU, this vote has symbolic value, notes Tportal: “It’s a welcome to the club that Croatia has aspired to join for a long time.”

Voters will choose among 336 candidates from 28 lists or coalitions, some drawn up for the occasion, and some sporting names as quirky as "Voice of Reason", "ABC of Democracy", "Croatia Only", "Pirate Party", and "Party of Families", notes Novi List, adding –

Many of the candidates are known only to their families or neighbours. Some are Eurosceptic and openly advocate for Croatia to exit the EU.

This surge in numbers of candidates has been encouraged by the tantalising salary for MEPs (€7,000 per month), writes the Rijeka-based newspaper,

which has caused some proven Eurosceptics to forget their previous beliefs.

The campaign “has been too short (three weeks), uninteresting and lacked a real clash of ideas,” mourns Jutarnji List.

The candidates have missed their chance to say what they think of the crisis currently shaking the EU, its future and the consequences for Croatia of joining.

Tportal complains that

most of the candidates have been chosen for their loyalty to their parties, and have neither the skills nor the experience (or willingness) to get to grips with negotiations on highly specific topics such as estimates, not to mention the behind-the-scenes battles with the powerful political and financial lobbies.

Regarding the outcome of the vote, the latest polls predict 60 per cent of voters will show up – almost double the European election average. The favourite so far is the coalition around the Social Democratic Party, which is in power in Zagreb.