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“. ”. New Borders and Anomalies in the Balkans. Roundtable: Croatia’s Diaspora Constituency Tihana Bartulac-Blanc Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow National Endowment for Democracy November 14 and December 11, 2007.

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New Borders and Anomalies in the Balkans

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New borders and anomalies in the balkans

New borders and anomalies in the balkans

New Borders and Anomalies in the Balkans

Roundtable: Croatia’s Diaspora Constituency

Tihana Bartulac-Blanc

Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

National Endowment for Democracy

November 14 and December 11, 2007

The views expressed in this presentation represent the opinions and analysis of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment of Democracy or its staff.



  • Non-geographical Constituency/Diaspora Constituency/ XI. Constituency or District:

  • Refers to a separate electoral unit for Croatian citizens abroad with no residence in Croatia

  • 396,617 registered voters in 2003; inaccurate

  • Most Diaspora voters (~300,000) are citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B-H) who have never lived in what is Croatia today





  • Act on Croatian Citizenship, Art.16:

  • A member of the Croatian people without residence in the Republic of Croatia can obtain Croatian citizenship if s/he meets [other requirements] of this law and if s/he provides a written statement that s/he feels Croatian.

Constitution 1990 a 2001

Constitution (1990, a 2001)

  • Art.10  [Citizens Abroad]

  • The Republic of Croatia shall protect the rights and interests of its citizens living or residing abroad, and shall promote their links with the homeland.

  • Art.45  [Electoral Rights]

  • (2) In elections for the Croatian Parliament and for the President of the Republic, the Republic of Croatia shall ensure suffrage to its citizens who are abroad at the time of the elections, so that they may vote in the countries in which they are or in any other way specified by law.

Electoral law s

Electoral Law(s)

  • Act on the Election of Representatives to the Croatian Parliament:

  • Voters who do not have residence in the Republic of Croatia shall have the right to be represented in the Parliament … (Art. 8).

  • Voters who do not have residence in the Republic of Croatia shall elect representatives on the basis of lists with the 14 candidates in a special constituency (Art. 40)

Calculating diaspora seats 2000 2003 2007

Calculating Diaspora Seats(2000, 2003, 2007)

Act on the Election of Representatives to the Croatian Parliament, Art. 41


  • 2,409,240 (total voters) % 140 (seats)

  • =17,209


  • 70,529 (total voters) % 17,209

  • =4 seats

Diaspora seats since independence only one winner

Diaspora Seats since Independence:Only One Winner

2003 parliamentary election only one constituency with one winner

2003 Parliamentary Election: Only One Constituency with One Winner

2005 presidential election 2 nd difference in preferences

2005 Presidential Election (2nd):Difference in Preferences

Stjepan Mesic (Coalition) 65.93%

Jadranka Kosor (HDZ) 34.07%

Stjepan Mesic (Coalition)17.44%

Jadranka Kosor (HDZ) 82.56%

Summary of problems

Summary of Problems

  • Based on a very loose link with Croatia - citizenship based on common ethnicity.

  • Can influence the outcome of national elections and referenda.

  • Diaspora is clustered in only one country.

  • Potential negative effects in Bosnia.

  • Double voting.

  • The number of parliamentarians could surpass the constitutional limit of 160.

  • Biased in favor of one party.

  • Does not accurately reflect the public will in Croatia.

Iri poll september 2007

IRI Poll: September 2007

National polls 1 october 2007 puls for htv and jutarnji list

National Polls 1: October 2007Puls for HTV and Jutarnji list

Votes without Diaspora

Seats without Diaspora

National polls 2 october 2007 media center for vecernji list

National Polls 2: October 2007Media Center for Vecernji list

  • HDZ 31,9% or 56 seats

  • SDP 30,1% or 53 seats

  • without Diaspora

Political parties hdz

Political Parties: HDZ

You Tube: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Minister of Foreign Affairs

  • From HDZ Party Program:

    “HDZ will continue to insist on constitutional rights of Croatian citizens residing abroad, including their active and passive voting right in the parliamentary and presidential elections.”

Political parties sdp

Political Parties: SDP

You Tube: Zoran Milanovic, SDP President

  • No Diaspora list for the 2007 election.

  • 1 elected representative for B-H, 1 for U.S. and Australia

Croatian civil society gong

Croatian Civil Society: GONG

  • Observing elections since 2000.

  • “Elections Package” --improvement of the voters’ lists; termination of the list for Diaspora, or postal vote.

  • A political issue, not on the agenda.

  • Improvement of the electoral system, clean-up of voter lists, registration of voters abroad.

  • Cost of election.

  • Observers in 50% of all polling stations in B-H.

  • Reported fraud among Diaspora voters in 2005 (double and ‘ghost’ voting). Court decision.

International best practices

International Best Practices:

  • “The provision of the Law on Citizenship granting ethnic Croats born abroad and with no permanent residence in Croatia the right to Croatian citizenship and the right to vote remains a significant concern.” OSCE/ODIHR

  • “Even in advanced countries, democracy is a work in progress; it is nowhere perfect. As an electorate becomes better informed and a country’s norms change, the rules of elections need to be adjusted.” Robert A. Pastor

Other country cases

Other Country Cases

  • 115 states provide external vote; 11 reserve seats for Diaspora. International IDEA

  • Europe: France, Italy, Portugal

  • Latin America: Colombia, Ecuador, Panama

  • Africa: Algeria, Angola, Cape Verde,


  • None share other key features with Croatia.

Recent reforms

Recent Reforms

  • Mandatory registration for voters abroad.

  • Voters with residency in both Croatia and B-H vote in the Zagreb Constituency (~ 100,000 ).

  • Independent Electoral Commission and Referendum Law.

  • The number of polling stations in B-H increased from 30 to 124.

Discussion electoral reforms

Discussion: Electoral Reforms

  • Participants: political parties (inter-party bargaining), civil society, observers (reports and recommendations)

  • Timeframe: varies, non-election year

  • Feasibility: Constitutional changes or electoral law (options for representation)

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