Salute Croatian Diaspora! Do You Tolerate Gerrymandering?

Salute Croatian Diaspora! Pozdrav Hrvatsko Iseljeništvo!                        Photo: Ina Vukic



Salute Croatian Diaspora! We will not be downtrodden by electoral engineering!

Pozdrav hrvatskoj dijaspori! Neće nas pregaziti izborni inženjering!


Prior to 2010 Croatian citizens living abroad were afforded polling stations at times of elections in Croatian Diplomatic and Consular Missions as well as in community centres and clubs. After that the polling stations at community centres and clubs were banned! Article 45 of The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia clearly states that all citizens have ” general and equal voting rights during elections … voters who do not reside in Croatia have the right to elect three representatives in the Parliament…”

Article 72. of the Electoral Act states: “When determining polling stations, the number of voters who will vote at them, as well as the availability and spatial distance of the polling station must be taken into account.”

And so what did Croatian citizens living abroad get at these elections held on 4th and 5th July 2020? The same purposeful discrimination as since 2010 even though widespread complaints against such discrimination had never ceased! And so we come to the crunch of electoral engineering by HDZ that clearly and brutally disadvantages and discriminates against Croatian citizens living abroad.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina where HDZ has mastered the art of political control over the people there were 44 polling stations, mostly within community settings and away from any Diplomatic-Consular Mission Of Republic of Croatia in that country!

For the rest of the world outside Croatia polling stations were only set up at head-offices of Diplomatic-Consular Missions and none within community settings! The latter despite the fact that Croatian Embassies and Consulates have held and hold Consular days in many places where their work is done in those places, closer to Croatian communities they serve with their services! It is reasonable and correct to say that a Diplomatic-Consular Mission is defined by the work it does in any country and, hence, it is defined by the places and work it does in those places.

For Example: The Croatian Consulate in Melbourne, Australia, has held and holds official Consular days in Hobart, Tasmania and in Adelaide, South Australia! And yet, polling stations for that entire area of the DC Mission were not set up in all these places but only in Melbourne – making it impossible for all voters to reach the polling station. Covid-19 restrictions cannot be used as excuse because they did not impinge upon access to voting.

The same can be said for General Consulate of Croatia in Sydney that holds Consular days in Brisbane and Gold Coast / the latter two places did not have a polling place set up for Croatian citizens to vote.

The same can be said for Canada. In Canada, for example, the General Consulate of Croatia in Mississauga holds or has held Consular days in Windsor, Kitchener, London St Thomas, Welland, Winnipeg, and Saskatoon and through the Embassy in Ottawa in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary and Edmonton. BUT no polling stations were set up set up there!

The same can be said for almost every other country outside Croatia, bar Bosnia and Herzegovina, where there are Croatian citizens of significant numbers. The number of polling stations was atrociously low, inadequate and downright purposeful denial of voter equal rights guaranteed by the Constitution and related legislation.

I trust that Croatian citizens living outside Croatia will know how to assert their rights and organise accordingly. We are still sailing a stormy sea of transitioning from communism into democracy and I hold that it is the duty of all citizens to ensure that basic rights in a democracy are afforded to all. The electoral engineering that occurs in Croatia is a shame on us all and citizens must not be complacent to injustice and discrimination as through such things a totalitarian rule thrives!

It seems blatantly clear that Croatians living in the diaspora must fight for justice now more than they did at the time of Croatia’s secession from communist Yugoslavia. Losing sight of democracy and rights under it is a dangerous thing. What HDZ has done and is doing regarding elections is tantamount to gerrymandering, which involves manipulating the size and shape of electoral districts in order to favour one political party over the other (needless to say SDP party has done the same in the past). The government, the State, must be held responsible for this and I for one suggest that voters from the diaspora need to expedite a lawsuit against the government, otherwise nothing will change for the betterment of democracy in Croatia. Ina Vukic


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