Croatia: Left Side Politics Partisanship Obstructing Right to Vote

Croatian elections

Big day for Croatia – Sunday 8 November 2015; Croatia votes for new parliament – new government.
For Croats living abroad voting commenced on 7 November so they get the whole weekend to make it to the polling booths, which are restricted to consular or diplomatic premises, which more often than not have rather small waiting rooms and no easily accessible public toilet facilities on offer. Hence if one happens to live in the US or Australia one would in many cases need to take hours long plane ride to reach a polling booth, in Germany, Switzerland, France, UK, Canada, New Zealand Argentina etc. – few hours train or car ride … only very few are located within a reasonable distance from a Croatian consulate or diplomatic mission.
Some years ago, the leftists (former Communists, Social Democrats) brought in the rule that polling booths outside Croatia must be on consular/diplomatic mission premises and nowhere else. Prior to that, polling booths used to be located on Croatian clubs’ premises and given that there were quite a few around more people could access their voting right although for many this was still prohibited due to distance and/or cost of travel. Also, same day registration to vote was available. Postal and electronic voting was never introduced under any government – conservative or liberal – even if the diaspora has been asking for it consistently.

Then there is the new – preferential – voting system introduced this year for the first time in Croatia, which of course requires a great deal of public/voter education but when it comes to diaspora the wings of education were severely clipped or even pulled out.
The principal right of citizens in a democratic society is their ability to vote, and when partisan politics inhibit citizens’ ability to utilize this tool, there is a fundamental problem. Without the average person in a large voter body such as the diaspora is being able to easily vote, Croatia is no longer is a representative democracy.

So here are some of the main ways Croatian leftist government has made it harder to vote for Croats living abroad, who have a legal right to vote in elections:

1. Voting to occur only on Croatian consular or diplomatic missions’ premises thereby, guaranteeing that most will never vote as the distance to travel to a polling booth is prohibitive either time or cost wise for most;

2. A person must register to vote well in advance of polling day (about 10 days) and information regarding the requirement to register is not easily available to most, especially not to the ones who do not read the Croatian press or listen to Croatian radio available in the countries they live in (and there are many of those) – one has yet to come across a mainstream media outlet in a “Western” country, say, where the Croatian government has taken out some advertisement space within which it informs its prospective voters of the requirements etc. – many, therefore, do not end up voting because they did not know of the requirement for prior registration. Same day registration has been pulled away by the Social Democrats led government and these developments indicate that political party ideologies have permeated and stained the electoral system, leaving voters confused (it needs to be said here that traditionally the election results from the Croatian diaspora have favoured the Conservative or right side of political walkway and the leftists have stuck to making it hard to vote if living abroad);

3. Requiring a state-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. It seems in most places not only a Croatian photo ID was required but also of the state living in, e.g. Driver’s Licence or Passport! Many, especially pensioners, may not posses a photo ID from either country or one of them, which usually puts people off. While voter impersonation fraud may have been concerning in Croatia in previous elections it is most rare or non-existent in the diaspora.

4. The traditional practice of Croatian emigrants being considered on temporary work abroad and being able to retain their name on the local residential register – where they often possess property – has been scrapped by Social Democrat led government and, hence, all those living abroad for more than 12 months had to de-register their residence in Croatia or were struck off from the register by the authorities, which placed them automatically into the so-called “Electorate 11”/ Diaspora electorate which has only 3 seats in parliament even if there are almost as many Croats living abroad as living in Croatia. In the previous system with residence registered in Croatia they could have voted for the Electorate their Croatian home is in and within which they may be paying taxes etc. The leftist government has in this way also significantly reduced on local Electorate level the number of voters who are likely to vote Conservative (as it’s known that those living abroad usually vote Conservative);

5. The introduction of preferential voting system without adequate and equal opportunity public education and without “How to Vote” cards being available to voters at polling booths the Social Democrat government has pursued the avenue of confusion among voters. One could easily see through numerous media write ups and presentations across Croatia media skies that voters across the country are confused about the recent changes to the voting system, and this may certainly lead to many people being turned away at the polls both in Croatia and abroad, or not even attempting to vote due to frustration with lack of clear information. Further impacts of this appalling situation remain to be seen, but one thing is certain: this election season certainly will be an interesting one that raises many ethical and moral questions about the Croatian Republic.

It is widely accepted that the race consisting of two major competing camps for government (Social Democrat led coalition and Croatian Democratic Union led coalition) is highly capable of yielding results of a minority government and subsequent deals with minor parties or independents who may win seats. But by restricting polling booths to consular premises that are far and few in between, by doing away with same day registration, restricting voter identification to photo ID from two countries if abroad, by restricting information of how to vote to brief moments of explanation by individual staff at polling booths on the day – which carried a sizable possibility of error -, and by striking people off local residential registers the leftist politicians have hurt citizens, particularly the diaspora which is often treated as a minority group even if it has almost as many voters as those living in Croatia. To make one living in the diaspora angrier at such politics one only needs to remember that Croatian governments of all political persuasions do and have invested quite a bit of effort seeking from the diaspora to invest in Croatian economy – how can such invitations and calls bear the desired fruit if the same government makes the voting from diaspora so hard; we must remember that it’s the results of our voting that defines how the laws will be made and how they will stack up against the successful prospects of investment projects. Social Democrats’ partisanship has severely obstructed the right of diaspora to vote and I do look forward to a future when such obstructions will be removed and investors of Croatian descent be afforded easy access to voting in order to contribute a healthier investment climate in Croatia into which they could pour funds with greater ease. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.; M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Comments

  1. Out of topic Ina,
    How can we differentiate between Croats, Serbs, Montenegrins and Bosniaks through their speech? it sounds identical for me.
    Thank you.

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  2. Can only hope, Ina, all goes peacefully
    and that the voting is free and fair.
    Good Luck, Croatia!

    big hugs

    john

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  3. My first vote was for President, today I will again vote for a better representation.

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  4. The recent British alteration of voter registration managed to de-register 20,000 in the city of Cardiff alone. I find I have re-registered several times in five years at this address; the local council sent workers to visit those not registered, to register them.

    I wish Croatia well on its election day. Congratulations again on being able to hold them!

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  5. Fingers crossed Ina.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ines Radman says:

    In Australia you’re forced to vote. I have never voted in my life, even in Canada I would not give my consent, for years people asked me why I didn’t or insisted that I should because it’s my civil duty. It turns out I was right, what’s the point? I don’t care what people think, voting is rigged. Now that we are in this EU mafia state, the rigging is even more commonplace. EU doesn’t want a anti EU leader. These leaders are mere puppets of corporations. I don’t mean to be negative, but there is no such thing as democracy. The moment you create a law that restricts a person from cutting a tree down on their own property it is no longer a democracy. This word has been misused for centuries. Let’s get real, Democracy is but a word used to pacify the masses, it’s an illusion created for us to think we have one. Our government has more government servants on 4.4 M population than Canada does with 30 M. We work 6 months out of the year to just pay their salaries. It’s not the government that is the problem. It’s the people for being passive and for not doing anything about it. I can’t blame them. These people are tired of wars and poverty, they feel they have no power to change anything, right or left it’s the same shit, I mean, come on, every election time one party will come to power that previously made a mess and now they are promising to make a change? It’s like divorcing your husband and then marrying him over and over repeating the cycle. An abuser is always an abuser. I won’t vote because whether I vote or not, the game is rigged. This last government has been worse than the last but if a new government comes to power they will be accused of stealing again because that’s what they did…where does any of this make sense? I’m just rambling today Ina…I don’t see any sense in any of this, perhaps because I can see through the fog while most people live in this fog of illusion that things will get better.

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    • No we are not forced to vote in Australia, Ines – voting is compulsory and there is a difference and voting is a duty if one wants the right to complain or change political course of country – it has made a difference on many occasion however there is also rigging, voter recruitment along political lines etc…we cannot pull away and watch it all happen, we can only try to make a difference

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ines Radman says:

        What’s the difference between compulsory or forcing? My partner lived in Australia/Perth and he said he MUST vote or he will get fined? Sorry if I misunderstood.

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      • Forced is not felt as duty while compulsory is. Forced means you must vote while compulsory in this case means you must turn up at voting but once you get your ballot paper you don’t have to vote, you can just fold it up and slot it in the box not having made a single choice.

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      • Ines Radman says:

        Ah ok. Just like taxes in Canada. There is no law that states you must pay taxes, but we just filled out the forms with ZERO and submitted it.

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      • Hehehe, at the end of the day in voting in Australia there’s comparatively very few invalid ballot papers, I guess conscience plays tricks so even the one who doesn’t want to vote ends up voting. I have never met a person in Australia who feels he/she is forced to vote, they may complain about having to go at the polling booth etc to avoid a fine but at the end of the day he/she cannot say their right to vote has been in any way compromised by the powers that be. Don’t know about Canada, taxes must be paid in Australia too and it’s almost impossible to put Zero in income at this electronic age where all income automatically gets fed to taxation office – of course businesses or investors do and can find ways to avoid paying at least some tax…

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      • Ines Radman says:

        I don’t know how it works now, it’s been over 10 years. I belonged to a group of people that taught us how to not pay taxes legally. I never had problems even though each years I feared the taxman at the door. There is no legislation in US or Canada. Taxes were temporary measures to fund the wars, but they never cut them off after and people just got used to it. There are rules…but thing is…once you sign a tax form with your ‘given’ name, you basically sign a contract with the government and are bound to paying taxes. I never paid taxes, just filled out the forms. It worked. Ater 25 years of working and putting the money i would have paid in taxes, I had a nice retirement over 650K. That’s money you GIVE to the government and never get back in pensions. I’m sure they have found a way to change that now but you know the old saying : It’s either death by doctor or taxes”.

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      • I consider it my citizen’s duty to pay taxes. As Benjamin Franklin once said “Two things in life are certain: death and taxes”. How else are road, hospitals, transport, schools going to be built and maintained if there is no contribution from taxes. You have obviously moved in different circles where tax avoidance could be gotten away with.

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  7. I completely agreed. Voting is the founding act to hear the voices of people for choices to run the country they own and to live.

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  8. Ina I have caught up with your posts now and added this one as a feature on main news site. The others l added as normally to Ace News Room as you will probably know by now. Hope you like as always regards Ian 😀

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  9. Good luck. I hope many will show up to vote and that the outcome will help Croatia on its path to a better future 🙂

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  10. Marina Armstrong says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head Ina. Just looked at the results of elections from Great Britain. Nine, honestly, a whole nine people voted. Every reason you’ve listed is true, the whole system is designed to put people off. Three million Croats abroad get three representative seats in our parliament. And yet the diaspora pours over a billion euros into Croatia yearly, which is almost twice as much as the complete foreign investment. Seems a trifle unfair to me.

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  11. We vote via absentee ballots if we are not at home for an election. Every citizen has the right to vote. Even here, there are those who do not want everyone to vote. You have to always be aware of what they are doing. Your blog is such a wonderful gift to Croatia. Hugs, Barbara

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    • Thank you, Barbara – Croatian political former-communist forces do make things hard for those living abroad mostly because that is not a part of their power base traditionally nor have they tried to win that part of electorate over… perhaps the future will make it much easier and then lots of frustration will never resurface 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hoping that the people get to decide for a better future, dear friend. 🙂 ♡

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  13. KC and the Thanksgiving Prayer

    I gave a thanksgiving prayer to a new family I met near Asheville.
    I got twigs and built a triangle (the three goddesses: corn, squash and
    beans) and a square (the four directions: North – Winter and cleansing,
    East: Spring and beginnings, South: Summer and warmth, West: Fall
    and remembrances. The triangle sits above the square, because it is the
    women who feed us.

    You start in the square facing West and, while turning right for each
    new direction, say:

    We salute you for your wind and fresh new sky
    We salute your wonderful people and cleansing snow
    We greet the day with dreams to labor by
    We salute your sun and love and fun and go

    To green mountains, cold river by the leaves
    Of Rhododendron bushes, tall black trees.
    A new friend of mine now believes,
    Captured by spirits she feels by doesn’t have to see.

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  14. The Left is even a pain in Croatia? There everywhere. You have a well viewed blog Ina! Good job!

    Like

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