Elections in Croatia

Elections in Croatia
Croatia

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Constitution of Croatia and legislation enacted by the Parliament of Croatia provide for regular elections in Croatia for the office of the President of Croatia, the parliament, county prefects and assemblies, city and municipal mayors as well as city and municipal councils. Since 1990, 5 presidential elections were held, as well as eight parliamentary elections, including two for the upper chamber of the parliament, while the parliament was bicameral. Furthermore, there were six nationwide local elections. Croatia is expected to elect 12 members of the European Parliament after its accession to the EU unless those elections cannot be held more than six months prior to scheduled 2014 European Parliament election which are already planned to include Croatia.

The President of Croatia is elected to a five year term, by a direct vote of all citizens of Croatia, in a two-round system, requiring runoff elections if no candidate wins more than 50% of votes in the first round of voting. Members of the Parliament of Croatia are elected to a four-year term in ten multi-seat constituencies, with additional members elected in special constituencies reserved for the Croatian diaspora and national minorities. As of November 2011, applicable legislation provides for election of 151 members of the unicameral parliament. Out of 25 political parties which won seats in Croatian parliamentary elections held since 1990, only five won 10 seats or more at any one of the parliamentary election. Those were Croatian Democratic Union, Croatian Peasant Party, Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats, Croatian Social Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party of Croatia. The county prefects, city and municipal mayors are elected to four-year terms, by majority of votes cast within applicable local government units, with a runoff election if no candidate achieves majority in the first round of voting. Members of county, city and municipal councils are elected to four-year terms, through proportional representation with the entire local government unit as a single constituency.

Any Croatian citizen aged 18 or over may become a candidate in presidential, parliamentary or local government elections, provided that sufficient number of endorsements by Croatian voters is obtained beforehand. Croatian elections are relatively highly regulated including spending limits, annual donation limits, limitation on number of endorsed candidates and election lists and media coverage regulation. Voting takes place in polling stations in the country and abroad, monitored by an electoral board in each of the stations and numerous observers. Ballots consist of alphabetical list of candidates or election lists with ordinal numbers which are circled to indicate a vote. All votes are counted by hand. State Electoral Commission publishes official results and handles complaints, supported by county, city and municipal electoral commissions during local elections. Decisions of the electoral commissions may be appealed at the Constitutional Court of Croatia.

Contents

Presidential elections

Ivo Josipović, 2010 election victory speech

The President of Croatia is elected to a five year term, by a direct vote of all citizens of Croatia, with a majority vote required to win. A runoff election round is held in case no candidate secures the majority in the first round of voting. The presidential elections are regulated by the constitution and dedicated legislation, however the latter defines technical details, appeals and similar issues only. Election silence is in force on the day of the elections and the previous day, ending at 7 in the evening as polling stations close and exit polls may be published after that time.[1] The official title of the president is the President of the Republic (Croatian: Predsjednik Republike).[2]

2009-10 Presidential election

e • d  Summary of the 27 December 2009 and 10 January 2010 Croatian presidential election results
Candidates First round Runoff
Candidate Sustaining Party Votes % Votes %
Ivo Josipović Social Democratic Party of Croatia 640,594 32.42 1,339,385 60.26
Milan Bandić Independent 293,068 14.83 883,222 39.74
Andrija Hebrang Croatian Democratic Union 237,998 12.04
Nadan Vidošević Independent 223,892 11.33
Vesna Pusić Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats 143,190 7.25
Dragan Primorac Independent 117,154 5.93
Miroslav Tuđman Independent 80,784 4.09
Damir Kajin Istrian Democratic Assembly 76,411 3.87
Josip Jurčević Independent 54,177 2.74
Boris Mikšić Independent 41,491 2.1
Vesna Škare-Ožbolt Independent 37,373 1.89
Slavko Vukšić Democratic Party of Slavonia Plain 8,309 0.42
Valid votes: 1,954,441 98.94 2,222,607 98.64
Invalid votes: 20,890 1.06 30,547 1.36
Turnout: 1,975,909 43.96 2,253,570 50.13
Expected voters: 4,495,233 4,495,528

The percentages of votes from each candidate are calculated from number of valid voters
The percentages of valid and invalid votes are calculated from the turnout number
The turnout percentage is calculated from the number of expected voters

Source: State Election Committee - the first round,[3] runoff;[4]

Previous presidential elections

Presidential elections were held in Croatia for the first time on 2 August 1992 simultaneously with the 1992 parliamentary elections. Voter turnout was 74.9%. The result was a victory for Franjo Tuđman of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), who received 57.8% of the vote in the first round of the elections, ahead of 7 other candidates. Dražen Budiša, the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) candidate and runner-up in the election, received 22.3% of the vote. The second presidential elections in modern Croatia were held on 15 June 1997. The incumbent, Franjo Tuđman ran opposed by Zdravko Tomac, candidate of the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP) and Vlado Gotovac, nominated by the HSLS. Tomac and Gotovac received 21.0% and 17.6% of votes respectively in the first round of voting, and Tuđman secured another term. The third presidential elections were held on 24 January 2000, to fill the office of the President of the Republic, after the incumbent Franjo Tuđman died on 10 December 1999.[5] The first round of voting saw Stjepan Mesić, candidate of the Croatian People's Party (HNS) in front, receiving 41.3% of votes, followed by Dražen Budiša of the HSLS with 27.8% of votes and Mate Granić nominated by the HDZ receiving 22.6% of votes. The runoff election, the first in the presidential elections in modern Croatia, was held on 7 February, when Mesić won picking up 56.9% of votes. Voter turnout in the first round was 63.0% and 60.9% in the runoff.[6] The first round of the fourth presidential elections was held on 2 January 2005. No candidate secured a first-round victory, however incumbent Mesić enjoyed substantial lead over other candidates as he received 48.9% of votes and the second and third ranked candidates Jadranka Kosor (HDZ) and Boris Mikšić (independent) managed only 20.3% and 17.8% voter support respectively. Ultimately, Mesić won reelection as he received 65.9% of votes in the runoff held on 16 January. The last Croatian presidential election was held on 27 December 2009, with Ivo Josipović (SDP) picking up 32.4% of votes, followed by Milan Bandić (independent), Andrija Hebrang (HDZ) and Nadan Vidošević (independent) receiving 14.8%, 12.0% and 11.3% of the votes respectively. The second round of voting was held on 10 January 2010, when Josipović defeated Bandić as he received 60.3% of votes.[7]

Election Candidates First round
voter turnout
First round results
(candidates with more than 10% of votes)
Second round
voter turnout
Winner
1992 8 74.90% Franjo Tuđman (57.8%), Dražen Budiša (22.3%) N/A Franjo Tuđman
1997 3 54.62% Franjo Tuđman (61.4%), Zdravko Tomac (21.0%), Vlado Gotovac (17.6%) N/A Franjo Tuđman
2000 9 62.98% Stjepan Mesić (41.3%), Dražen Budiša (27.8%), Mate Granić (22.6%) 60.88% Stjepan Mesić
2005 13 50.57% Stjepan Mesić (48.9%), Jadranka Kosor (20.3%), Boris Mikšić (17.8%) 51.04% Stjepan Mesić
2009-2010 12 43.96% Ivo Josipović (32.4%), Milan Bandić (14.8%),
Andrija Hebrang (12.04%), Nadan Vidošević (11.33%)
50.13% Ivo Josipović
Source: State Election Commission[7]

Parliamentary elections

Interior of the Parliament of Croatia

140 members of the Parliament of Croatia (Croatian: Hrvatski Sabor) are elected to a four-year term in ten multi-seat constituencies. The constituencies are defined on the basis of the existing county borders, with necessary amendments to achieve uniform number of eligible voters in each constituency to within 5% variation. Another constituency is defined for citizens of Croatia living abroad, however its number of seats was not fixed for the last parliamentary election. It was instead calculated based on numbers of votes cast in the ten constituencies in Croatia and the votes cast in the 11th constituency, set up for those living outside Croatia. In the 2007 parliamentary election the constituency elected five MPs. Recent constitutional changes have abolished the scheme and assigned permanently three MPs to the 11th constituency.[8] Additional eight members of the parliament are elected by voters belonging to 22 recognized minorities in Croatia: Serb minority elects three MPs, Hungarians and Italians elect one MP each, Czech and Slovak minorities elect one MP jointly, while all other minorities elect two more MPs to the parliament.[9] Standard D'Hondt formula is applied to the vote, with a 5% election threshold.[10][11] The last parliamentary election, held in 2007 elected 153 MPs, and the next one, scheduled for December 2011, shall elect 151.[8] Just like in case of the presidential elections, election silence is in force on the day of the elections and the previous day, ending at 7 in the evening when the polling stations close and exit polls are published.[12]

Even though political parties fund their campaigns using donations or own assets, the government also reimburses them for each parliamentary seat won. For the 2011 parliamentary election, each seat will be rewarded with 180,000 kuna (c. 24,300 euro). Smaller sums will be paid to parties or candidates failing to win any seats in the parliament, provided they receive more than 5% of votes in a constituency.[13]

2007 Parliamentary election

e • d Summary of the 25 November 2007 Croatian Parliament (Hrvatski sabor) election results
Parties and coalitions Votes % Seats % +/–
Croatian Democratic Union (Hrvatska demokratska zajednica) 907,743 36.6 66 43.1 ±0
Social Democratic Party of Croatia (Socijaldemokratska partija Hrvatske) 775,690 31.2 56 36.6 +22
"Green-Yellow Coalition" (Zeleno-žuta koalicija) Croatian Peasant Party (Hrvatska seljačka stranka) 161,814 6.5 6 3.9 –4
Croatian Social Liberal Party (Hrvatska socijalno liberalna stranka) 2 1.3 ±0
Alliance of Primorje-Gorski Kotar (Primorsko-goranski savez) 0 0.0 –1
Democratic Party of Zagorje (Zagorska demokratska stranka) 0 0.0
Zagorje Party (Zagorska stranka) 0 0.0
Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats (Hrvatska narodna stranka - Liberalni demokrati) 168,440 6.8 7 4.6 –4
Istrian Democratic Assembly (Istarski demokratski sabor/Dieta democratica Istriana) 38,267 1.5 3 2.0 –1
Croatian Democratic Alliance of Slavonija and Baranja (Hrvatski demokratski savez Slavonije i Baranje) 44,552 1.8 3 2.0 +3
Coalition Croatian Party of Pensioners (Hrvatska stranka umirovljenika) 101,091 4.1 1 0.7 –2
Democratic Party of Pensioners (Demokratska stranka umirovljenika) 0 0.0
Croatian Party of Rights (Hrvatska stranka prava) 86,865 3.5 1 0.7 –7
Others 184,477 7.4 0 0.0 –7
Independent Democratic Serb Party (Samostalna demokratska srpska stranka) (national minority list) Enrolments and vote totals do not include voters for ethnic minority representatives. 3 2.0 ±0
Party of Democratic Action of Croatia (Stranka Demokratske Akcije Hrvatske) (national minority list) 1 0.7 ±0
Other national minority representatives 4 2.6 ±0
Total 2,483,452 100.0 153 100
Sources: State Election Committee[14]

Previous parliamentary elections

Croatian parliamentary election results, 1992–2007, parties winning 10 seats or more at any individual election shown individually

Since 1990, six parliamentary elections were held in Croatia. The election held in 1990 were the first multi-party elections following 45-year Communist rule, and the candidates ran for all 80 seats in the Social-Political Council of Croatia, all 116 seats to the Municipalities Council of Croatia and all 160 seats to the Associated Labour Council of Croatia as the Parliament had three chambers at the time. The first round of the election saw turnout of 85.5%, and the runoff-election turnout was 74.8%. The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) won 205 seats and the Social Democratic Party of Croatia won 107. Five parliamentary elections were held since for the Chamber of Deputies (Croatian: Zastupnički dom) of the parliament or the unicameral parliament since—in 1992, 1995, 2000, 2003 and 2007. Starting with the 1992 elections, number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and later in the unicameral parliament was significantly changed—ranging between 127 in 1995 to 153 in 2007. In Croatian parliamentary elections held since 1992 when number of seats in the parliament was limited to below 160, only 5 parties won 10 seats or more at any one of the parliamentary election. Those were HDZ, Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats (HNS), Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) and SDP.[7]

Several political parties, besides the HDZ, HSS, HNS, HSLS and the SDP, won parliamentary seats since the 1990 election. Those are (in alphabetical order): Alliance of Primorje-Gorski Kotar (previously named Rijeka Democratic Alliance), Croatian Christian Democratic Union, Croatian Democratic Alliance of Slavonia and Baranja, Croatian Democratic Peasant Party, Croatian Independent Democrats, Croatian Party of Pensioners, Croatian Party of Rights, Dalmatian Action, Democratic Centre, Democratic Union of Hungarians of Croatia, German People's Union – National Association of Danube Swabians in Croatia, Independent Democratic Serb Party, Istrian Democratic Assembly, Liberal Party, Party of Democratic Action of Croatia, Party of Liberal Democrats, Serb Democratic Party, Serb People's Party, Slavonia-Baranja Croatian Party, and Social Democratic Action of Croatia.[7] Since the parliament seats won belong to individuals rather than parties, there were instances where individuals would become independent or switch to another political party.[15]

Parliamentary elections overview (since 1990)
Election Turnout Results Cabinet(s)
1990 59.5% 1st assembly Cabinet of Stjepan Mesić, Cabinet of Josip Manolić, Cabinet of Franjo Gregurić
1992 61.7% 2nd assembly Cabinet of Hrvoje Šarinić, Cabinet of Nikica Valentić
1995 70.5% 3rd assembly Cabinet of Zlatko Mateša
2000 68.8% 4th assembly Cabinet of Ivica Račan I, Cabinet of Ivica Račan II
2003 75.6% 5th assembly Cabinet of Ivo Sanader I
2007 84.5% 6th assembly Cabinet of Ivo Sanader II, Cabinet of Jadranka Kosor
Source: State Election Commission[7]
Seats won in parliamentary elections since 1990 by individual parties
Party 1990 1992 1995 2000 2003 2007
Alliance of Primorje-Gorski Kotar - 1 1 2 1 -
Coalition of People's Accord 3 - - - - -
Croatian Christian Democratic Union - - 1 1 - -
Croatian Democratic Alliance of Slavonia and Baranja - - - - - 3
Croatian Democratic Peasant Party - - - - 1 -
Croatian Democratic Union 55 85 75 46 66 66
Croatian Independent Democrats - - 1 - - -
Croatian Party of Pensioners - - - - 3 1
Croatian Party of Rights - 5 4 4 8 1
Croatian Peasant Party - 3 10 17 10 6
Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats - 6 2 2 10 7
Croatian Social Liberal Party - 14 12 25 2 2
Dalmatian Action - 1 - - - -
Democratic Centre - - - - 1 -
Democratic Union of Hungarians of Croatia - - - - 1 -
German People's Union - - - - 1 -
Independent Democratic Serb Party - - - - 3 3
Istrian Democratic Assembly - 4 3 4 4 3
Liberal Party - - - 2 2 -
Party of Democratic Action of Croatia - - 1 - 1 1
Party of Liberal Democrats - - - - 3 -
Serb Democratic Party 1 - - - - -
Serb People's Party - 3 2 1 - -
Slavonia-Baranja Croatian Party - - 1 1 - -
Social Democratic Action of Croatia - - 1 - - -
Social Democratic Party of Croatia 20 6 10 43 34 56
Independent 1 4 3 3 4 4
Source: State Election Commission[7]

Chamber of Counties elections

Under the new Constitution of Croatia adopted in 1990, Croatian Parliament became bicameral. The Chamber of Deputies had been elected few months earlier and its members enacted legislation creating new territorial organisation of Croatia. This included counties that were to be represented by the new Chamber of Counties (Croatian: Županijski dom). The first election of members of the chamber was held on 7 February 1993, with each of the counties acting as a multi-seat constituency, three MPs being elected in each of the counties on the basis of proportional representation. In addition, the President of Croatia appointed up to five more members of the Chamber of the Counties to complete its 68-strong membership. The second election for the Chamber of Counties of the parliament were held on 13 April 1997.[7][16] The Chamber of Deputies was abolished through a constitutional amendment in 2001.[17]

Seats won in parliamentary elections by individual parties
Chamber of Counties elections 1993–1997
Party 1993 1997
Croatian Democratic Union 39 42
Croatian Party of Rights - 2
Croatian Peasant Party 5 9
Croatian People's Party 1 -
Croatian Social Liberal Party 16 7
Istrian Democratic Assembly 3 2
Social Democratic Party of Croatia 1 4
Independent 3 2
Source: State Election Commission[7][16]

European Parliament elections

Croatia is expected to elect 12 members of the European Parliament after its accession to the EU unless those elections cannot be held more than six months prior to scheduled 2014 European Parliament election which are already planned to include Croatia.[18] The elections are regulated by special legislation enacted by the Sabor. Provisions of the legislation are very similar to the parliamentary election legislation, except, with the main differences reflected in 12 members of the European Parliament elected in a single constituency encompassing the entire Croatia.[19]

Local elections

2009 Local elections: County council election winners (left), and county prefect election winners (right)
  HDZ   SDP   HSS   IDS   HNS-LD   HDSSB

The county prefects, city and municipal mayors are elected to four-year terms, by majority of votes cast within applicable local government units, with a runoff election if no candidate achieves majority in the first round of voting.[20] Members of county, city and municipal councils are elected to four-year terms, through proportional representation with the entire local government unit as a single constituency. Number of members of the councils is defined by the councils themselves based on applicable legislation. Electoral committees are then tasked with determining whether the national minorities are represented in the council as required by the constitution, adding further members to the council, who belong to the appropriate minorities, selecting them from electoral candidate lists and who have not been elected through the proportional representation system.[21] Election silence, as in all other types of elections in Croatia, is enforced on the day of the elections and the previous day, ending at 7 in the evening, which is the time when the polling stations close and exit polls may be announced.[22] Out of six nationwide local elections held in Croatia since 1990, the most recent were the 2009 local elections to elect county prefects and councils, as well as city and municipal councils and mayors. At that occasion HDZ-led coalitions won majority or plurality in 15 county councils, and 13 county prefect elections. SDP-led coalitions won majority or plurality in five county councils, including the city of Zagreb council, and the single remaining county council election was won by IDS-SDP coalition. The SDP won four county prefect elections and the city of Zagreb mayoral election, the HSS won three county prefect elections, and the HNS and the HDSSB won a single county prefect election each.[7]

Political campaigns

Any Croatian citizen aged 18 or over may become a candidate in presidential, parliamentary or local elections. In order to become an official candidate in presidential elections, 10,000 endorsements by citizens of Croatia aged 18 or over must be collected and submitted to the State Electoral Commission within 12 days following publication of the decision to hold elections in Narodne Novine, the official gazette of the Republic of Croatia. The endorsements are made in a list comprising name, address and personal identification number (PIN) of each of the citizens supporting a particular candidate. Each citizen may endorse a single candidate. The election commission verifies the endorsement lists, publishes the candidate list in all daily newspapers in Croatia and on the Croatian Radiotelevision and delivers it to diplomatic missions of Croatia for publication.[23] In case of parliamentary elections, only fourteen member election list may be submitted to the State Electoral Commission for any number of constituencies in Croatia, in addition to candidates for the Croatian diaspora constituency and the ethnic minority representatives. In that case, 500 endorsements are required for an election list to become valid. The lists may be supported by one or more political parties or by a group of voters as an independent list. No person may be a candidate on two or more lists simultaneously.[24] The same procedure applies to local elections, except that council election list require 100, 150 and 500 endorsements for municipal, city council and county council lists respectively. The city of Zagreb council is treated as a county council for the purposes of election procedure.[25] Number of the voter endorsements of mayoral and county prefect candidate nominations ranges from 50 for mayoral elections in municipalities of up to 1,000 residents, 100 for other municipal mayoral candidates, 500 for mayoral elections in cities of up to 35,000 residents, 1,000 in cities with population between 35,000 and 100,000, and 2,000 endorsements for cities of 100,000 residents or more, except in case of Zagreb. County prefect election candidates require 2,500 endorsements, and the candidates running for the office of mayor of Zagreb need 5,000 voter endorsements for their nomination to become valid.[26] Candidates running for European Parliament seats need not be Croatian citizens, and may hold citizenship of any Member state of the European Union while having a permanent or temporary residence in Croatia. Their nominations are valid if endorsed by 5,000 Croatian voters.[19]

Funding

Funding of political parties, independent politicians and election campaigns is relatively highly regulated in comparison to developed western democracies.[27] Applicable legislation encompasses cash receipts, provision of free services (except labour of volunteers) and products and other forms of support including membership fees. The legislation also stipulates that the government budget provides funding for political parties and non-partisan political representatives in the amount of 0.05% of the previous years budget expenditures. Further funds are appropriated in local government budgets as well. The funds are distributed to elected members of the parliament and councils, and the political parties, with which they are affiliated, receive 10% of the funds. Each election candidate or list must have a dedicated bank account to handle election campaign donations and other related funding as well as all campaign related expenditures. The maximum donation to a single party, candidate or list made in a year is also regulated. In case of natural persons it is set to 30,000 kuna (c. 4,050 euro) regardless of the purpose. Companies and other legal persons are limited to the same amount in case of political campaigns related to local elections, 100,000 kuna (c. 13,500 euro) during political campaigns for parliamentary elections or European Parliament elections and 200,000  (c. 27,000 euro) in presidential elections—to any single candidate, party or list, whichever may apply. Total campaign expenditure is also limited to 8 million kuna (c. 1.08 million euro) per candidate in presidential elections, 1.5 million kuna (c. 202,000 euro) per candidate or election list in European Parliament or parliamentary election constituency respectively, 500,000 kuna (c. 67,600 euro) per candidate in Zagreb mayoral elections, 400,000 kuna (c. 54,000 euro) per candidate in county prefect or mayoral elections in cities of 35,000 residents or larger and in county seats. Mayoral election campaign expenditure in other cities and in municipalities is also limited depending on the local government unit population: 250,000 kuna (c. 33,800 euro) if the population exceeds 10,000 residents, 100,000 kuna (c. 13,500 euro) in units of population of 3,000–10,000 and up to 50,000 kuna (c. 6,750 euro) in self government units smaller than that. All candidates and parties or election lists are legally required to publish financial reports detailing the funding. The reports are audited by the State Electoral Commission and the State Audit Office.[28]

In 2007 parliamentary elections, the leading political parties reported campaign spending as follows: the Croatian Democratic Union spent 19.5 million kuna (  2.6 million euro), the Social Democratic Party of Croatia spent 15.8 million kuna (c. 2.1 million euro), the Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats spent 9 million kuna (c. 1.2 million euro), while the Croatian Peasant Party led coalition reported spending 8 million kuna (c. 1.08 million euro) and the Croatian Party of Rights spent a similar amount.[29]

All presidential election candidates receiving at least 10% of votes are awarded equal sum as election campaign reimbursement. The exact sum is decided upon by the government at least 30 days ahead of the elections.[23] This amount was set to 250,000 kuna (c. 33,800 euro) for the purposes of the 2009-2010 presidential elections, representing a 50% decrease from the sum determined for the previous presidential elections, when the reimbursement sum was set to a half of a million kuna.[30][31] Similarly, the government also reimburses the political parties and election lists for each parliamentary seat won. For the 2011 parliamentary election, each seat will be rewarded with 180,000 kuna (c. 24,300 euro). A sum of 30,000 kuna (c. 4,050 euro) will be paid to parties or candidates failing to win any seats in the parliament, provided they receive more than 5% of votes in a constituency. In addition, national minority representative candidates running on the minority ballot failing to win parliamentary seats but still winning at least 15% of votes in their constituency, will receive 27,000 kuna (c. 3,650 euro) if the particular minority comprises less than 1.5% of total population of Croatia.[32] Finally, all European Parliament election candidates and county prefect and mayoral election candidates receiving 10% of votes or more are also entitled to receive reimbursement of costs in the amount determined by the government ahead of each elections.[28]

Media coverage and promotion

Applicable legislation requires that all presidential and parliamentary election candidates or election lists are guaranteed equal opportunity to present and discuss their platforms in media in addition to paid advertising.[23][24] In 2007, parliamentary election campaign was covered by all media, including |nationwide television broadcasters. In the period, the broadcasters, which include Croatian Radiotelevision (HTV), RTL Televizija (RTL) and Nova TV aired 27.8 hours of news in 22 different shows, containing 1,196 news reports. The total included 171 reports dealing with the elections directly. Analysis of the news coverage indicates evenly matched coverage of combined ruling party (HDZ) and the government official statements on one side and the main opposition party (SDP) on the other, each receiving an average of 37.5% share of the coverage and 33% share of interviews aired. HTV and Nova TV gave slight advantage to the HDZ and the government, while RTL gave more coverage to SDP. Still the differences were small and resulted in the matched ratios. Other political parties received considerably less coverage. HNS received approximately 11% of the coverage on average, HSS received 6%, and all other parties received less than 5% coverage.[33] The national television broadcasters normally air shows where all election lists and candidates are allowed to talk about their programmes and may organise election debates.[34][35][36]

Paid promotion largely followed this pattern, as the HDZ and the SDP were two dominant parties in that field as well. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) furthermore noted in its report that the largest parties reported their advertising spending reduced, and that the largest proportion of the expenditure pertains to the television ads.[37] Election silence is in force on the day of the elections and the previous day, ending at 7 in the evening as polling stations close and exit polls may be published after that time.[1][12][22]

Voting and appeals

Polling stations are normally set up in public buildings throughout the country and voters may only vote at an assigned polling station according to their permanent residence, but voters in armed forces deployed abroad, voters on Croatian-flagged ships and imprisoned voters are allowed to vote elsewhere. Other voters residing in Croatia, traveling abroad on day of the elections may vote in diplomatic missions of Croatia. The polling stations are open from 7 in the morning until 7 in the evening, but all voters present at the polling stations at the closing time are allowed to vote. Polling stations may be closed early if all registered voters have voted. Presidential election ballots contain the list of candidates verified by the State Electoral Commission, specified in alphabetical order. For the presidential elections, this entails names and PIN of each candidate along with names of political parties endorsing the candidate, or a note that the candidate is running as an independent. The names are sorted alphabetically preceded by ordinal numbers. Parliamentary election and European Parliament election ballots contain name of election lists and name of a person heading the list, who is not necessarily a candidate on the particular list. The lists are specified in alphabetical order and preceded by an ordinal number. Voting is performed by circling of number associated with a particular candidate. Ballots used otherwise, but still positively indicating a candidate for which a vote is cast, are also considered valid. Blank ballots and ballots where multiple numbers are circled or where multiple candidates are otherwise indicated are considered invalid.[23][24][25][26][19] Official results are announced and published by the State Electoral Commission.[7]

Complaints and appeals

Political parties, candidates and voters who have endorsed a particular candidate or election list in presidential, parliamentary or European Parliament elections may file complaints with the State Electoral Commission regarding irregularities in the election process within 48 hours of a disputed activity. In case of the European Parliament Elections, the voter complaints are required to be endorsed by at least 100 voters or 5% of the voters. If the commission finds the complaint valid, it will order repeated performance of activities concerned, possibly postponing the election date if there is insufficient time left to perform them. In any case, the commission must provide its decision within 48 hours after the complaint is submitted. The decision may be appealed before the Constitutional Court of Croatia within 48 hours of receipt of the decision, and the court must return a ruling within 48 hours once petitioned.[23][24][19] In case of local council elections, the complaints are processed by county, city or municipal electoral commissions, as it may apply. On the other hand, in mayoral elections the complaints are filed with the county electoral commission. This does not apply in Zagreb mayoral elections, where the complaints are submitted to the State Electoral Commission, as it is the case in county prefect elections. Regardless of these variations, the time allowances and the appeals procedure are the same as in case of the presidential and parliamentary elections.[25][26]

Monitoring

The elections are managed by the State Electoral Commission and electoral boards. Members of those bodies are required to have a university degree in law, and they may not be members of any political party. The State Electoral Commission tends to preparation and management of the elections conforming to legislation, appoints lower-ranking election commission and board members, issues directions to such bodies and supervises their work. The State Electoral Commission compiles and publishes candidate lists, supervises legality of political campaigns and compiles and publishes official election results. All members of election boards, or their legal deputies, must be present at assigned polling statins at all times while the polling station is open. The board verifies identity of voters against list of registered voters and records turnout. The turnout number is later checked against number of votes cast, and if the number of votes exceeds turnout, elections at the specific polling station must be repeated. The votes are tallied by hand and that information is forwarded along with all other records made at the polling station to the State Electoral Commission.[23][24][25][26][19]

Further monitoring is largely performed by various non-governmental organization specializing in election monitoring—such as GONG.[38] Also, there are other monitoring organisations headquartered in Croatia and abroad. Most recently the OSCE set up a limited monitoring mission to observe the 2009-2010 presidential elections.[39] The last parliamentary election, held in 2007, were monitored by 8,540 observers fielded by various organisations and political parties.[40]

See also

  • Electoral calendar
  • Electoral system

References

  1. ^ a b "Izborna šutnja traje do objave exit polla u nedjelju u 19 sati [Election silence lasts until exit polls are published at 7 PM on Sunday]" (in Croatian). Business.hr. 9 January 2010. http://www.business.hr/hr/Naslovnica/Politika/Izborna-sutnja-traje-do-objave-exit-polla-u-nedjelju-u-19-sati. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
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