Croatian Jews hope elections will end areas isolation

"The Jewish population wants to be part of an integration of states because we want to have more intensive contact with other communities," said Goldstein, a professor of Jewish history at the University of Zagreb.

Final results will not be available until later this month, but Racan seems set to be the country's new prime minister. Elections for a new president are slated for Jan. 24, and this week's results are seen as an important precursor to those presidential elections.

Goldstein was particularly elated by the results — his father, Slavko Goldstein, was a founder of the Social Liberals and was the party's first leader, from 1989 to 1990.

But Goldstein wasn't the only one who was pleased by the election results.

He said he was at the Jewish community center the day after the elections and "everybody was — not celebrating, but very happy."

The vote marked the first time that the Croatian Democratic Union, which was led by Tudjman from 1990 until his death at the end of last year, lost power since Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Tudjman's support of a client Croat army in Bosnia and his refusal to deliver accused war criminals for trial had isolated Croatia internationally.

Goldstein said that events in the 20th century had cut Croatia's Jewish community off from other European communities.

Croatian entry into the European Union — still a far-off prospect, as the organization has not even accepted Croatia as an applicant — would help reverse that trend, Goldstein said.