Dismal 28% of Croatians vote in favour of European Union accession

For and Against EU membership Croatian referendum brochure released by the government

Media in Croatia (and abroad) is abuzz with the high percentage of casted votes delivering a “Yes to EU” vote. 66.27 % Yes votes counted by midnight 22 January 2012 (Croatia’s official electoral office results).

Looking further at those figures:

a)      TOTAL number of registered voters at counted polling places – 4 488 938

b)      TOTAL number of registered voters that voted – 1 958 709 or 43.63%

c)      TOTAL number of valid votes from b) above – 1 947 651 (99.44%)

d)     TOTAL number of polling places processed to midnight – 99. 81%

The reality is that around 44% of all voters in Croatia turned up to vote at the referendum.

This was among the lowest turnouts in any of the EU states that have held accession referendums before they joined (in its day Hungary had 46%)

Regardless of this, the Yes vote of 66.27% of votes cast (add a small figure to this as counting of a relatively minor number of votes, domestic and from the Diaspora, is still to be processed in the coming days) is in accordance with national referendum laws/constitution valid as there is no minimum threshold of total number of votes cast for results to be valid.

Translated into actual people or registered voters in Croatia the referendum results point to the fact that only 28.64% of all Croatian voters said Yes to the EU membership.

This makes the referendum victory a bitter and concerning one, indeed.

It says more about the great divide among Croatians when it comes to joining the European Union than anything else.

Not even the “alluring” arguments of the government’s Yes campaign, not even its blackmailing arguments managed to move the majority of registered voters into casting their vote. One simply must ask why and seek the answer; if not now then in the near future.

The opportunity that the governments and mainstream Croatian political parties had in the past year or so (when the negotiations and requirements in the accession to EU process picked up on speed) to strengthen the grassroots of democratic process – personal/individualised ownership and responsibility in the working democracy – has been squandered on monocular and often blackmailing and sweet-talking pro-EU campaigns. These seem to have confused many people, made them dig their heels in as protest, more than helping them understand so that their personal decision making comes at relative ease.

For a long time the negotiations for accession to EU membership had been riddled with obstacles imposed by the EU (see Timeline: Croatia link on this website), generating palpable and widespread bitterness and distrust in EU among the people.

Suddenly (2011), the EU turned to beckoning Croatia into its bosom with accolades for Croatia’s achievements.

With the horrible Homeland war (1991-1995) still fresh in memories, with a great deal of outstanding matters to still be resolved in pursuing justice for war victims, the governments and mainstream political parties never thought to promote understanding among the grassroots (the people) of this colossal turnaround in EU’s views about Croatia.

Distrust in politicians by a majority of citizens is evident in the low turnout for the referendum. It seems that the enthusiasm to participate in the democratic process at the level of every individual citizen (the grassroots) seen in developed democracies does not yet exist in Croatia. It does not exist, to my opinion, because the Croatian mainstream political parties still continue to thrive on “political elitism”, separating themselves from the grassroots.

On commenting the referendum result Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said: “This is a historic moment, and could be a turning point in our history“.

Well, it is a historic moment but not in the way that Milanovic may be thinking. In 1991, 94% of all Croatia’s voters voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia. In 2012, in effect, 28.64% of them voted to join the EU!

And is likely to provide fodder for continued political instability and disenchantment among the people at Croatia’s grassroots.

Commenting on the referendum results Croatia’s foreign minister Vesna Pusic said: “With this, we leave behind political instability, but the rest will depend on our ability and creativity.”

Obviously, I do not agree with her as the overwhelming number of Croatian people who in 1991 voted for an independent Croatia had decided to abstain from participation in the referendum and that fact alone suggests that there is still a great deal of work to be done in Croatia on individual ownership and participation, by voting, in the whole-country direction and welfare.

On a positive note, Croatia has achieved significant progress in aligning its modern laws and practices with those found in the European Union and western democracies. And perhaps the membership in EU albeit with lukewarm, even seemingly cold in many instances, sentiments from the grassroots will actually do what Croatian politicians should have done themselves: assist the Croatian people in realising how each and every person is so very important. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. Michael Silovic says:

    So we have to move forward now.If the voting was valid and not tampered with then We must accept the outcome. Now one of the most important issue is to watch for the economic development that will begin to occur and see who really benefits this. The second issue is the monetary policy. What will be the exchange rate of the KUNA to EURO? Many people who worked hard and saved the KUNA will find that it will be worth half of its value if not less. There is going to be a lot of hardship for many people during this transformation.The next issue to keep an eye on is immigration by other foreigners to work in Croatian territory.The government must insist that any company that has contract to work in Croatia hire a minimum of 70% of Croatian people before importing immigrant workers. We will see in the next few years how this all plays out.

  2. It is absolutely true and fair. It’s simple maths: total Yes votes divided by total registered voters x 100 = 28.64%. I do not assume what those who didn’t bother going to the polls would have voted. Why people (majority) did not bother going to the polls and that is a concern, how they would have voted it’s unknown but certainly every government should be worried why not because we are dealing with a referendum of national proportions. Certainly, I believe that given the results EU should be given a chance and it will be, but the possible “don’t care” attitude that emanates from a large number not voting is to my view very concerning.

  3. Michael silovic says:

    My take on the outcome of the results are that many people who did not go to the pols understood that the outcome was going to be in favor of the EU. Many Croatians understand that the corruption is rampant in Croatia and that the EU can manipulate the votes. I was saddened to see such a poor showing at the polls. Those who favored the EU will be the ones screaming the loudest when they finally realized the EU will do more harm then good at this stage. In my opinion there was not enough information or debate between Croats to fully understand the implications of joining the EU.If you walk the streets of Zagreb and ask the ordinary citizen what item in the policy they like the most they can not tell you. They can only tell you that we will get more money and freedoms because this is all that they were told. If you ask them should Croatian people use their tax money to pay other countries debt they will say no but yet this is what we voted to do.Once the EU dumps all the 3rd world people in Croatia we will have to use our monies to support them as well. We need to be prepared to change our constitution to a Croatia first policy and if the EU doesn’t like it then we must exit or face the prospect of loosing our national identity and culture.

  4. Michael silovic says:


    Here is an article of exactly what will happen in Croatia in a few years as it enters the EU.This is an accurate article of what is happening in the USA as well.

  5. True, cannot assume anything except that those who didn’t vote didn’t care etc. Read an article yesterday from Cro press that some government reps think the low turnout was because people were depressed… phew! All sorts of excuses are coming out as excuses or explanations for low turnout, so it’s interesting watching that. Thanks on your comment

  6. Michael Silovic says:

    The subject of the turn out is over.We will never really know why the turnout was so low. Now we must focus on moving Croatia forward and repatriating as many Croats back to our homeland as we can to help build a new country with investments. The process must be made much more easier then it is now and the process needs to be shorter. My understanding is that it takes 3 years to get a citizenship approved based on ancestry. This should not take more then 6 months to process.The more we have people return to our mother land the better our country will be.Over the years many Croats who moved to other countries learned a different way of life and many different talents that they can use to help educate and create work for our people.We must encourage our government to invest in manufacturing, forestry and minerals as soon as possible.Croatia has a vast wealth of all of these but we need to re-populate with Croatians as quickly as possible to ensure Croats do not get lost in the process and more importantly loose the identity of its people. Our government needs to be forced into a Croatia First Policy to ensure that those who families who lost the most are best taken care of.

  7. Yeah the matter of large number of registered voters has been brought up before, some claimed it was people who actually live abroad but have a registered address in Croatia that inflates the numbers. The past and current governments never showed the will to sort out the electoral role, probably because it suited them. Now that the number of people who actually went to vote for the referendum was so low (44%) some For-EU politicians are trying to say that the electoral role is wrong and that therefore more than 44% voted. Disaster whichever way one looks at it but EU should be given a chance since they say the results are valid under the consitutional law.

  8. Thanks Anne. You’re not the only one who’s confused. My confusion and anger comes from the fact that Croatian electoral roll has been in a huge mess for a long time, more people on the roll than than adults eligible to vote. No one did anything to investigate and correct this probably because it suited their personal political interests. But now they’re questioning it post-refrendum. However, I guess because the Official figures on the roll are publicised by the official electoral roll this figure must stand for obvious reasons – it’s simply “official”

    Sources suggest (latest census of about a year ago) that there are 3.176 million adults living in Croatia. If one goes on that then the turnout percentage at referendum is higher. This is without registered voters living abroad and those are in their hundreds of thousands, these too decided not to vote this time in droves – i.e. sources say that only 3.6% of those actually cast their vote for referendum.

    People say that there are still voters on the roll that are deceased, that there are double entiries but these are not in large figures, however, still count.

    Total number of registered voted is certainly not reliable as far as I can see, but one cannot rely on that as a result because the authorities in Croatia had failed to clean up the electoral roll prior to referendum.

  9. Agree. Re Tudjman’s government – it’s not a matter of being fond of it or not but realising and acknowledging the enormous and difficult task it had. It cannot be construed as a government doing a general, normal government job but a government that led a nation into democracy out of communism, thru war, devastation, economic ruin due to war and communist mismanagement etc. Appreciate your comment.

  10. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  11. Thank you an unbelievable submit, will examine your particular others content. thanks for your ideas on this, I experienced a bit made an impact to by this short article. Many thanks again! You earn an excellent time. Displays the beauty through wonderful report here. I think that in case more people considered it like that, they’d have a very better moment in time have the hang ofing the matter.

  12. This is my second time to your blog, I love it every time!

  13. Wammy, am I ever glad I came to your website. Awesome stuff!


  1. […] a “new” EU on the drawing board – an EU which was not the subject of Croatia’s January 2012 EU referendum! Therefore, Milanovic says that people had not really voted in the referendum for the […]

  2. […] actions into relying on the European Union, as opposed to its own people. We cannot forget that a dismal 28% of Croatia’s voters voted Yes to Croatia’s EU membership in January 2012. Croatia has followed the path of US Democrat political waters as well as being a […]

  3. […] actions into relying on the European Union, as opposed to its own people. We cannot forget that a dismal 28% of Croatia’s voters voted Yes to Croatia’s EU membership in January 2012. Croatia has followed the path of US Democrat political waters as well as being a […]

  4. […] actions into relying on the European Union, as opposed to its own people. We cannot forget that a dismal 28% of Croatia’s voters voted Yes to Croatia’s EU membership in January 2012. Croatia has followed the path of US Democrat political waters as well as being a […]

  5. […] rather than the EU, by people political power. If Croatia’s government keeps referring to the EU referendum of 2012 as something Croatian people committed themselves to then the reality and people-legitimacy […]

  6. […] rather than the EU, by people political power. If Croatia’s government keeps referring to the EU referendum of 2012 as something Croatian people committed themselves to then the reality and people-legitimacy […]

  7. […] rather than the EU, by people political power. If Croatia’s government keeps referring to the EU referendum of 2012 as something Croatian people committed themselves to then the reality and […]

  8. […] rather than the EU, by people political power. If Croatia’s government keeps referring to the EU referendum of 2012 as something Croatian people committed themselves to then the reality and […]

  9. […] who turned up to vote. And so, we had the situation that in 2012 the majority vote out of the dismal 28% of total voters turnout decided that Croatia should become an EU member. […]

Leave a Reply

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: