Changes to electioral laws to introduce three preferential votes starting next year



Varazdin, 210517. Lokalni izbori 2017.
Na lokalnim izborima biraju se nacelnici, gradonacelnici, zupani i clanovi gradskih i opcinskih vijeca, te clanovi zupanijskih skupstina. Biralista su otvorena od 7 do 19 sati.
Na fotografiji: glasovanje gradjana.
Foto: Zeljko Hajdinjak / Cropix
Željko Hajdinjak / HANZA MEDIA

Illustration: Voting at the 2017 local elections in Varaždin

Minister of Administration Lovro Kuščević appears to have set at least three goals for his Ministry for the next year. One is the broadening of preferential voting in the parliamentary elections from one to three candidates on each slate. The other is the introduction of preferential voting in the local elections, and the third is a broadening of the list of criminal offenses that would disqualify a candidate from being included on a slate.

The changes are an integral part of the legislative action plan for 2019 that the Ministry of Public Administration has presented for the purposes of public debate. Altogether, changes are to be made to seven laws, four of which refer to the rules governing elections and referendums.

Elections first

The first of the list are amendments to the Parliamentary Election Districts Act, but they will apparently only impact the nomenclature. "The law needs to be aligned with the current structure and the name of the legislative body in the Republic of Croatia", says the release from the Ministry. "Changes to the Constitution made in 2000 and 2001 changed the name of the Croatian State Parliament to the Croatian Parliament, while the House of Counties [was abolished] in 2001."

Changes to the law on referendum and other forms of personal participation in the state, local and regional government are scheduled for the last quarter of the next year. The planned amendments will cover only the issues related to the organization of referendums and the collection and verification of the citizens' signatures.  Apparently, the definition of issues not eligible for referendums will not change, and neither will the required voter turnout.

Other forms

"The existing law does not regulate all the procedural issues [that arise before] the referendum [itself]", says the Ministry release. The intention is apparently to set "clear and specific definition of pre-referendum activities, in particular the manner of collecting voter signatures (the layout and content of signature forms, the method of verification and counting of the collected signatures), the deadline for submission of the collected signatures, and the deadline for the verification and counting of the collected signatures [by the authorities]". The Ministry adds that it is also necessary to determine the deadline for the formal acceptance of a referendum in the case the number of collected signatures is sufficient.

The Ministry stresses the need for a clearer and more specific regulation of other forms of decision-making, too, but does not indicate which forms, or what changes of regulation it has in mind. The Act on Amendments to Local Election Act will also be on the agenda at the end of next year. "The citizens are increasingly expressing the desire to introduce preferential voting in the local elections", says the Ministry. "After the introduction of direct election of heads of municipalities, city mayors and county prefects, democracy would be further strengthened and enhanced with the preferential voting in the local elections [which would ensure] that the voters associate with the members of representative bodies to a greater extent and intensity."

"Given that the introduction of preferential voting to the election of [MPs and MEPs] has enabled the citizens to influence the choice of [their representatives] in the Croatian and European Parliaments, it is our desire to provide citizens with greater influence also on the choice of representatives in the bodies at the local level (municipal councils, city councils and county assemblies)."

Lower costs

The package of legislation that is being prepared will also reduce the number of members of electoral bodies running the local elections - municipal, county and county election commissions and commissions at the polling stations. The Ministry justifies the move with lower cost of the process.

"It is estimated that the reduction of the number of members of electoral bodies will also reduce the cost of local elections", says Kuščević's Ministry. "This will have a direct impact on local government units, as the election cost items in their budgets will [be smaller]."

The law on the election of representatives will be amended to broaden the preferential voting, so that the voters will have the possibility of giving preference to up to three candidates on a chosen slate. In addition, the list of criminal offenses that would disqualify candidates from running for a seat in the Parliament is to be broadened.

Inačica na drugom jeziku / Alternate language version