Croatia: EU Parliament Elections – Winners are Losers in Dismal 20.84% Voter Turnout!

July 2013 EU Parliament representatives for Croatia   Photo Pixsell

July 2013 EU Parliament representatives for Croatia Photo Pixsell

Were you to observe the media buzz in Croatia, with all the pomp and ceremony (including photos with brightly coloured shawls around politicians shoulders, balloons, confetti, champagne …) you would think there was a major event in Croatia that ended in victories of unseen avalanche  proportions; political landslides large enough to cause earthquakes of at least 9 points magnitude on the Richter scale.

Just prior to the EUP elections held on Sunday 14 April the Electoral Roll was “sorted” (meaning the authorities found that there is now 3,738,708 eligible voters living in Croatia (or have a registered address of abode there). The Croatian Electoral Commission (Državno izborno povjerenstvo/DIP) says that 20.84% of eligible voters actually voted at EUP Elections in Croatia.

This translates into some 780,000 people in total who actually voted.

Out of that number of votes, according to results of 98% counted by DIP, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which also includes candidates of the Croatian Party of Rights Dr Ante Starcevic (HSP AS) and the BUZ pensioners’ party, won 32.93%.
The coalition consisting of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Croatian People’s Party (HNS) and the Croatian Pensioners’ Party (HSU) followed with 31.95%.

The Labour Party finished third with 5.76%.

Hence, it is likely that 6 seats will go to HDZ coalition, 5 to SDP coalition and 1 to Labour.

While it is customary to congratulate the winners and say well done to all others who participated in the electoral race, the dismal voter turnout is surely a sign of a political and democratic swamp suffocating Croatia.

Certainly, one cannot claim a victory in the name of the people with the choice of only 20.84% represented in these results.

This is among the WORST voter turnout for EUP in EU history! Furthermore, one could safely conclude that the 2013 EUP elections in Croatia may well reflect the results of much of political party vote recruitment (or voting in accordance with party orders).

The following are votes counted for the winners:

HDZ list of candidates:

Ruža Tomašić (63.882)

Andrej Plenković (37.015)

Dubravka Šuica (30.979)

Davor Stier (13.752)

Ivana Maletić (4.424)

Zdravka Bušić (4.010)
SDP list of candidates:

Tonino Picula (110.278)

Biljana Borzan (17.584)

Marino Baldini (1.631)

Oleg Valjalo (1.325)

Sandra Petrović Jakovina (3.806)
Croatian Labour list: Nikola Vuljanić (6.351)
Not much to celebrate about, is it!?

Flimsy electoral victories if I ever did see one!

Indeed, the many anti-EU Croatian voters have not voted at these elections; others are simply too disillusioned with the government and opposition and do not have enough energy to get out and vote – try and change the political landscape in Croatia (it’s almost like mass depression from widespread unemployment and impoverished living standards is working for the benefit of the “big” political party machinery).

With local government elections coming up in May, HDZ, which has had a difficult time in trying to reinvent itself after its significant loss at the December 2011 general elections, is hopeful that, given its success at the EUP elections, it will also reap similar rewards at the local ones.

SDP with its coalition has lost significant ground among the voters. The EUP voters have sent a strong message to the government it seems.

Or, one major party may have been a better “recruiter” of votes than the other?

While EUP elections voter turnout has been known to be at low levels in several countries, from time to time, in Croatia, where a dismally low voter turnout in January 2012 (around 29%) for EU referendum secured Croatia’s progression into EU membership, these EUP elections in Croatia are a symptom of serious disillusionment with the way democracy is going as well as persistence of the significant anti-EU voter sentiment.

Very low voter turnout also signifies apathy that has the capability of endangering the system of democracy. And when you have this, where people simply do not vote, do not speak up (vote) – for whatever reason – then the wheels of political party machinery that go about securing votes, recruiting votes, really start spinning; to keep the party in power. And, this is usually the least those who do not vote want!

It needs to be said that election campaigns for EUP by candidates have been most humble and certainly not widespread, especially when it comes to the smaller parties and independents’ lists of candidates.  Time was very limited. Also, many would have realised that it would be a “waste” of precious money to try and campaign properly amidst major party activities and various media manipulations.

Be it as it may, the candidate list (Democratic Centre Party) I was on did quite well, considering. We won a total of just over 6,000 votes and this is a great success for which my colleagues and I are most grateful. Our “maiden” voyage into the electoral-scape saw our Joint Movement of Good making a positive impact.  Our program got more votes than some of the electoral “winners” who are “going to Brussels”.

We wish them all the best and mat they do Croatia proud!

If one could go so far as to foresee the future for the next general election in Croatia (2015) on the basis of EUP election results we could be looking at a hung parliament (between the two major party coalitions), or a miracle might happen and people will actually make an effort and go to the polls, vote and create a wonderful new political landscape that will move democracy in Croatia to its deserved and long awaited levels of full citizen participation, thus sever the ties with political elitism inherited from communist times and shatter the seeming “invincibility” of the political elite. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Sydney)


  1. Silence and no action will get you nowhere, this is a tragic voter response, I wonder WHY ?

    • Wilkinson says:

      Yes EPO very tragic. One lot are probably in deep depression, one lot are defiant because they don’t want Croatia to join the EU, one lot don’t realize how potent their vote is if they want to change, one lot is disinterested or you normal run of the mill of people who don’t vote ever (minority) and so on…

    • Many people are really disillusioned, thinking that voting for ANYONE is a waste of time because they’ll do “nothing”, and that the elections are just “useless”. They’re almost treating it as a joke. Some went along just to make informal votes. What a waste!

  2. I feared a dismal voter turn out would be the problem, after I saw much mockery of the election from Croatians on my Facebook feed.

    Politics may be a boring topic for many and we certainly can’t all be experts on it, but this is a critical time for Croatia and for expressing Croatian interests. People cannot allow themselves to be apathetic if they want to see changes for the better. Citizens have no right to complain about the dire situation in Croatia and the “corrupt” politicians when they refuse to take actions which will ignite change. It is not enough to simply hold protests – long-term positive change will only come from implementing a vision with practical solutions that put the best interests of Croatians within the country and the diaspora, first. And these solutions will come when we give the right people the power to represent our needs and create the right political landscape.

    You wanted democracy, Croatians. So why are you not upholding your end of the deal and expressing your democratic right to vote for your benefit? Lack of knowledge should be no excuse. If you have the time to make stupid posts on Facebook, you have the time to do some basic research. Otherwise don’t complain when you’ve shot yourselves in the foot.

    Nevertheless, thank you Ina and the Democratic Centre Party for your efforts. I’m sure the work for the greater good won’t end here.

    • Kat, yes, only people and their vote can bring changes. It is pitiful the way so few voted, I bet most of the votes for major parties came as orders from above – ah, the ecstasy of power! It’s gone into HDZ and SDP heads! Lord help us! No, He won’t help if we don’t vote in greater numbers.

  3. The elected EUP reps won’t be making a grand entrance into the Parliament then? 🙂

  4. Tragicomedy!

  5. Robert Keane says:

    Congratulations Ina and your colleagues! Well done! The results might look low in percentages but when you look at actual votes and analyze this sorry state of affairs at the elections and lead up to the elections they take on a whole new meaning. Joint Movement of Good has broken through the barrier and it’s unstoppable. Keep at it!

  6. Miso Sorbel says:

    What angers me most is that those who do not want Croatia to join the EU think they are very smart by not voting! That is cruel towards the people and the nation. Since Croatia is going into EU and since that cannot be changed at this stage they should have gone to the polls and made sure they voted for the people they want there. But no, the smart Alec’s boycotted the voting and got exactly what they did not want! Go figure!

  7. When I was in Zagreb I noticed that there was an election coming up but there was almost no campaigning. I assessed that there was a vote minimization strategy unfolding. I predicted that voter turnout would be low but I did not think it would be this low.

    The odd thing is that “smart friends” told me that they were going to protest the vote by not voting. I really do not understand this. Did the SDP give the conservatives this idea? This is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Only in Croatia!

    The other thing that is quite funny is how HDZ is proclaiming a victory. Yes they got 6 seats but what this “election” indicates that they will lose the next election. Why? HDZ has no leaders that stand out.

    Tonino Picula (SDP) received 112.559 votes
    Ruza Tomasic (HSP-AS) received 64.758 votes
    Andrej Plenkovic (HDZ) received 37.546 votes
    Dubravka Suica (HDZ) received 31.483 votes

    Number of spoiled ballots 39.572

    So there were more spoiled ballots than any HDZ rep received!
    Think about that in this “victory”

    In real elections, people vote for the most part for the A. Party brand and B. the Leader. HDZ has no leadership. The best thing for HDZ is if Ruza Tomasic or Milan Kujundzic became HDZ leaders. Where would HDZ have been if it was not for Ruza Tomasic ???

    Hmmm, is it not curious that:
    – HDZ +1 (right) received six seats
    – SDP coalition +1 (left) received six seats

  8. Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

    The small conservative parties (strancice) have been doing the same thing over and over for the last 7 or 8 elections hoping for some sort of victory but getting the same results. I prefer to use the term “strancice” which is a diminutive for “party” meaning “small party”/”pseudo-party”.

    They know that political force is determined by numbers but none of them have the required numbers. They know they need to unite but none of them want to unite. Each of the “leaders” (as they see themselves) might have a Messiah/ Saviour (60%) complex mixed with Napoleon (40%) complex.

    They keep getting the same results. The people keep telling them that they are not interested in what their “parties” are selling – yet they keep on doing the same things and not learning anything from their experiences.

    How did the Conservatives perform?

    Hrast = 18, 893
    HSP = 10,317
    HCSP = 5,238
    ABH+JH = 4,531
    OS = 4,391
    A-HSP = 2,350

    Total = 45,720

    Now think about this – with economies of scope and scale they could have boosted this number by maybe 25% – if not more.

    Now this would have been interesting – the Laburisti received 42,750 votes. Had the small conservative parties worked together the Conservatives could have sent someone to EU Parliament and the Blues would have had 7 and the Reds had 5!

    But they never learn and votes get wasted!

    • It’s as clear as a sunny day, things must change in Croatia – even this pathetic turnout suggests that the water is reaching up to the throat. The fact that the odious lot get votes that send them to EU parliament means that people at large are stuck in a rut and don’t know or don’t to get out of it. I get that feeling from following news, media, street talk etc. Something needs to give – a mass concience about the value of voting would be nice.

  9. So I’m watching Erin Brockovich the other night on TV – hadn’t seen it in years. Yes, it’s an American-infused drama with lots of cleavage, but it showed what an outwardly unsophisticated individual managed to achieve. She didn’t have an agenda. She stared Goliath straight in the face and said what needed to be said. And in the face of exhaustion and likely defeat looming over her head, she went door-to-door to speak to the people and explained to them why they couldn’t be apathetic. And why their involvement mattered. Those people didn’t want to speak to the “suits” who rattled on in intimidating legalese that an average Joe couldn’t understand. They were, however, willing to speak to someone who listened to them, who spoke out on their behalf, who worked toward an objective, someone who had the cards, was willing to put them on the table, get the job done.

    Who is willing to hit the pavement and take the Erin-approach in Croatia? No one has yet. And until someone does the people are going to continue to close their doors and continue to be consumed by apathy.

  10. They did a psych experiment years ago (even though we know those early 20th century psychologists can’t be trusted!) where they put a dog in a cage, and then they begin to shock the floor. But no matter where the dog jumps to try to escape the shock, he will get shocked again. The dog eventually gives up trying to escape. The psych term is “Learned helplessness”

    When my Croatian friends tell me their employers are 3 months behind paying them, I can’t fathom it. I ask why there is no workers rights movement, no “Occupy Zagreb” movement.

    No one cares. Maybe after years of being “shocked”, people think nothing they can do will help them

  11. Hdz and Sdp can both go to hell.Hdz first!Noone voted.Only HDZ and SDP members.Sdp inherited bad situation after HDz maffia but they are incapable of achieving anything.40.000 people that voted went there to tear or cross their ballot.Croats have just gave up on democracy because of the same people being in power forever and Croats not being able to do anything about it legally.Our neighbours are harrasing our fellow Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and government is as usual ignoring the issue.Croats are also fed up with giving in to blackmails of our neighbours just to enter the EU.Cause the law is on their side and not at peoples side.So the hell with elections,I’m never voting again!I don’t care if my own mother is running for president!No more voting for me,bring on the dictatorship.At least you know what you got.

    • Excuse me? This is exactly the problem – you people refuse to vote and then complain about who is in power! Hold up your bloody end of the deal in a democracy and get educated on what representatives are out there! Did people like Ina and Dr. Slobodan Lang NOT run in the elections? Did you not have a choice? If people actually got together and voted for the good, then that is their LEGAL display of solidarity against the idiocy and incompetence HDZ and SDP. Don’t “do nothing”and then complain about how bad things are, that’s just idiotic. Refusing to vote does not work.

      If you have the damn energy to go to an election booth just to tear votes, you should have the damn energy to educate yourselves. (“You” as in the majority). And don’t give me that “bring on the dictatorship” bullcrap – it’s not a joke, it’s not funny. Do you understand how many of us are displaced, how many died, how many paid far too steep a price to leave dictatorship? Don’t shit on the memory of those sacrifices just because you feel apathetic…you have a choice to be an active citizen in a democracy.

      Freedom doesn’t come without its hardships. A better future won’t happen if everyone just accepts things as they are and decides to do nothing. Where do you think our Generals would be today if they, their supporters and legal team, just gave up at the first sign of struggle? Or would you rather accept everything they (and others) battled as being unimportant and accept a “dictatorship” as you say?

      • There is noone to vote for.99% of our politicians are complete corrupt morons and 1% is who really want to make a change can’t get their voice heard.People have just had enough of same old thetoric by the left and the right.HDZ maffia stole everything they could in Croatia and the SDP are yugonostalgic incompetent hippies.HSP are is a HDZ satellite.Budisa destroyed the HSLS and the Labour Party are just populists with no solutions.They can all go to hell as far as people are concirned.One more thing that amazes me is HNS and Vesna Pusic.They are constantly there when dicisions are being made but they never had more the 3-5% votes.Can’t believe they are still on Croatia’s political scene!Pusic is acting she’s a ambassador of some LGBT movement and not the Minister of Foreign Affaires.Mesic’s pupil.The hell witth them all.

  12. I infer from the comments here that most contributors opine that we ‘locals’ are generally misinformed, defeatist, lazy, apathetic or just plain stupid.
    Sadly, I can’t argue the point.

  13. Michael Silovic says:

    In my opinion I do not believe that the vote turned out as it should because there was little information available to the majority of the people that gave them enough information to make the right decision.SDP is known for doing nothing good and HDZ is know for its past corruption.Party for good needed more money to compete for recognition but at least there was a choice.Many people in Croatia are in turmoil because they really do not know who to turn to to make things better. However that is no excuse not to go to vote.We can all sit here and blame the people but in reality it is not only the peoples fault. Many did not want to be a part of the EU and felt that no matter what they say the goverment will do otherwise.Same as with the Cyrillic language as the goverment stated they do not care essentially about the voice of the people they were going to place the signs.The Croatian goverment should have an obligation to inform all registered voters of their choices months in advance of all of the platforms and educate the people on the choices.The issue before us now is what can we all do to get people to vote for the next election. Sometimes people need to be informed of the candidates much more earlier in the game. What I believe we need to do is to get a platform of people for the next election ready and start a political action committee to raise monies to inform people of our choices and why we support them.Reach out to all organizations before hand to get them involved. Croatia needs a solid 3rd party and it takes time to build one other wise we will be stuck with just 2 parties.Regardless of the voter turn out I will never abandon my hopes and dreams for our country and will continue to do all I can to inform people and encourage them to be part of our democracy.~Za Dom Spremni!~

    • The old ways of totalitarian system were present in these elections Michael, only in a different method. In the days of communist Yugoslavia elections went like this: there were “5” candidates on the list and you had to choose “5”, or however many the party put forth. This time there were many candidates but ensuring the public doesn’t get to know much about them, people who voted voted for the names they knew of + the votes by party orders, and in diaspora there were only a small number of polling places, ensuring most people cannot reach them without spending lots of money for travel, losing a day or two for the trip etc. We won’t give up on Croatia!

  14. Here’s a great column by Nino Raspudic about Wy Croats are dissapointed by the EU.

  15. Michael Silovic says:

    The constitution should make it mandatory for every citizen to vote, I know the election was not made easy for the diaspora to vote. I do not understand why we could not mail in ballots as most democratic countries do.None the less we have a lot of work to do in getting people out to vote so we can move forward with our country. I kind of understand why many didn’t bother.I hope because of the dismal turnout that politicians see this as a sign that the people have given up for the most part and lost faith in them and not in our country.

  16. It is really obvious why people in Croatia and the diaspora did not go out to vote. 80% of the people do not trust in EU nor in politiccs. It is stupid to join such a debased organization. It is worse than Yugoslavia so I wonder what so many people died for during freedom war if after all Croatia will end up being again a lapdog of an european regime. Only the 12 politicians who solely represent 20% of Croatia should be happy. They will be able to smile for the traditional EU family photo. They will travel around and get good salaries paid with loans imposed by EU, IMF and World Bank. Those loans will bring suffering to croatian people but if you think different ask Greeks, Spaniards, Irish, Portuguese, Cypriots, Italians, even French and British. Land, sea and companies in Croatia will be under control of the elitist world power. This is a total disaster for Croat people.

  17. Haha. This voter turnout PROVES that the Euro is unloved. A high voter turnout is a result of high optimism on the voter’s side. Here there is no optimism at all on the EU. The writing is on the wall. The people have rejected the euro.

    • In more ways than one, it seems narehnayak – however the other side of the coin could be that people are so disappointed and depressed that they couldn’t give a hoot about anything.

      • Yes. The disappointment comes from lack of an economic future. The lack of an economic future comes from monetary and fiscal inflexibility due to EU guidelines on the fiscal deficit and inflation targeting monetary expansion.
        Bottomline, economies aren’t functioning because the doctor in brussels is incapable. The people can see it, and have rejected it, however the elected politicians are having vested interests. Which is why a euro sceptic party will first come to power and gang up with other similar nations and go to war. Before war will come revolution in the nations.

      • I agree nareshnayak: no economic future visible = disappointment, despair… cannot last forever – something will need to happen


  1. […] MEPs ahead of the country’s accession to the EU in July. Croatia, the war, and the future bemoans the low turnout of 20.84 per cent in the elections, arguing that the winners have had very […]

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