Being There As Croatia Votes

Sunday 11 September Zagreb Croatia Election day mood Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Sunday 11 September 2016
Zagreb Croatia
Election day mood
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

 

Guest Post

11 September 2016 – dateline!

Croatia: “Croatians vote for a new government – Again – The LIST goes ON”.
Croatian Sabor election – this time with courage by Connor Vlakancic – 2nd generation Croatian-American in Zagreb

A peculiar feeling to be a Croatian-American here in Zagreb this day of 11 September.

Yesterday was my birthday and I “investigated” Garden Pivovara in Zagreb as a potential another beer to import to Chicagoland HR diaspora. Only three months in production, GP sells in cans, not bottles…nice! We sampled all the products very carefully (LoL).

 

Today Zagreb dawned like any wonderful day a sunup run around Jarun lake and then get-down-to-business…Sabor election Day. “We shall see what happens”.

Zagreb Croatia 2016 Election day Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Zagreb Croatia
2016 Elections day
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

On my way to the main voting station in Zagreb, I walk through Cvijetni Trg. Normal day, street performers in custom singing and dancing. All normal except for a Zagreb election observer, with badge, getting a picture. In front of Kino Europa, kava flows and so does the every-day-typical gossip…normal.

Street performers Zagreb Croatia Elections day 2016 Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Street performers
Zagreb Croatia
Elections day 2016
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

However, a four minute walk, West, you arrive at 18 Varsavska Ulica. Here is Osnovna Skola elementary school. This is the main voting station in Zagreb (total is over 650 of them, mostly at schools). This one provides for Croatians from wherever is hometown but needed to be in Zagreb today. With their proof of registration voter ID card in hand, there were two very busy receptionists with computer access to voter records to direct the voter to a room (there were 11 rooms) that included the voters hometown. All the voters in all of the rooms got the same ballot. All the ballots were printed in Croatian only, In California the ballots are printed in nine different languages. Readers can decide what that difference signifies.

Vrsavska street school Zagreb Croatia Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Vrsavska street school
Zagreb Croatia
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

The voter folds their ballot and inserted into a box with a sealed lid. No computers involved, the ballots will be hand counted. Croatia, a nation of some 4.5 million people (not all who are eligible will vote [sadly] but still, that is a lot of paper-to-push.

 

Croatia 2016 general elections ballot paper Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Croatia
2016 general elections ballot paper
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

The election workers awoke early and mostly on-station at 07:00 with the doors open at 08:00. Surprise, there were a lot of people waiting to vote. I inquired of them. Mostly they replied that they worked in a job at a cafe (or caffe) and so vote early first was their only option. I asked “considering the political situation in Croatia, economy and political animosity” why vote? The answer was always without hesitation: “I always vote, no matter anything else”.

Polling station Varsavska street school Zagreb Croatia 11 September 2016 Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Polling station
Varsavska street school
Zagreb Croatia
11 September 2016
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Walking to my car to retrieve my laptop to write to Croatish news good readers. A chance encounter.

With a small entourage of security staff, up walks President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. Like a regular sort of person, she bought flowers in Cvjetnik Trg. Despite her security staff, she was very approachable, I reminded her of our previous meetings in Croatian Embassy in Washington, D.C. of which she well remembered and I asked her election thoughts. She said: “We shall see what happens”.

President Kolinda Grabar-KItarovic votes/ 11 September2016 Photo: Ronald Gorsic/Cropix

President Kolinda Grabar-KItarovic
votes/ 11 September2016
Photo: Ronald Gorsic/Cropix

And so we shall. I will be attending the HDZ HQ to observe and report the election results as it is posted. Of course I will be discussing the US Presidential election, in term of voter turnout to be comparing to Croatian voter turnout, but certainly my vision of comparing a Sabor with a “bridge” over Croatia’s political chasm and my futuristic vision of a future US Congress of 200 Democrats and 200 Republicans with 35 Independent Representatives. Can the Sabor rise up to be the world-wide demonstration that this is a future that will resolve political rancor and deprivation. “We shall see what happens”.

Croatian Electoral Commission seal stamp on 2016 ballot boxes in Zagreb Croatia Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Croatian Electoral Commission
seal stamp on 2016 ballot boxes in
Zagreb Croatia
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Here in Croatia this can be a splendid day to remember and celebrate. However, as an emotional Croatian-American, my personal conflict on September 11th is considerable. Soon, in America, the sun will arise over New York and 9/11 Ground “Zero” will again be first and foremost in the minds of all America an all Americans. Even here on election day, voting is what democracy is where the rubber-meets-the-road, we who are American Expats will gather together to remember that democracy costs a very large price tag.

Connor Vlakancic Photo source: Zrinka Lusic/Voice of Croatia

Connor Vlakancic
Photo source: Zrinka Lusic/Voice of Croatia

Comments

  1. Hey Connor, are you a Hillary supporter?
    You support HDZ?

    Like

  2. Hello friend
    Thank you for stopping by my site and for the follow. I’m confused as to why you would follow me. I’m thrilled, I’m not crazy about World History, Croatia sounds worth reading about. Maybe you followed by accident, your background is intimidating.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Melinda

    Like

    • No accident, Melinda – many look for the light and enjoy reading about ways to it (or from it if it be) and light comes in many forms and one of them is truth. My light is Croatian truth 🙂

      Like

  3. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    TO DEMOCRACY ARE THEY DE-VOTED THEY HAVE VOTED!

    Like

  4. First – I love pictures! And here I am – and didn’t know that the California ballot is in nine languages…personally, I believe that if you can’t speak the language then how can you possibly vote – but that’s me. And third – at least your government is more stream-lined, we now spend more on pensions than on actually working…

    Like

    • Re language Helena, I think the multiculturalism policies whether hopeless or not have made it OK to vote and not speak the language. But at the end of the day I believe the ability to speak the language of the country one lives in also serves as a measure of desire to be a true part of the country and its mainstream community

      Like

  5. Great to see how the election process unfolds in Croatia… Ballots are only written in Spanish here, but considering the EEC maybe they should be available in many other languages I think… So get your point when you mention that the California ballot is in nine languages.
    I did not vote in the first previous election over here… I was too skeptical about candidates. I voted in the ballotage though.
    I hope the best times ahead for your country dear Ina… love & best wishes. Aquileana 😉

    Like

  6. You are such a great photographer, Ina. You did capture the beauty in Croatia’s people in the street scenes. I am not totally able to comment with any knowledge about the elections but you are a great reporter and give us important data, too.
    Take care, dear Ina. God bless you for all you attempt! (and may you have support.) 🙂

    Like

  7. Being here during voting and counting has been crazy. Its all you see on the tv and radio. Lucky for the beach! Lol x

    Like

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