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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03ZAGREB2259
2003-10-20 14:33:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

CROATIA'S PARLIAMENT DISSOLVES - WHAT NEXT?

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  HR 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 002259 

SIPDIS


EUR/SCE FOR KABUMOTO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/20/2013
TAGS: PGOV PHUM HR
SUBJECT: CROATIA'S PARLIAMENT DISSOLVES - WHAT NEXT?
ELECTION PRIMER CHAPTER III

REF: A. ZAGREB 2132

B. ZAGREB 2217

CLASSIFIED BY: POLOFF A.F.GODFREY FOR REASONS 1.5 (B,D)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 002259

SIPDIS


EUR/SCE FOR KABUMOTO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/20/2013
TAGS: PGOV PHUM HR
SUBJECT: CROATIA'S PARLIAMENT DISSOLVES - WHAT NEXT?
ELECTION PRIMER CHAPTER III

REF: A. ZAGREB 2132

B. ZAGREB 2217

CLASSIFIED BY: POLOFF A.F.GODFREY FOR REASONS 1.5 (B,D)


1. SUMMARY: THE CROATIAN PARLIAMENT DISSOLVED ON OCTOBER
17, THE FIRST FORMAL STEP IN A SERIES OF EVENTS WHICH WILL
LEAD TO ELECTIONS ON NOVEMBER 23. PRESIDENT MESIC TOOK THE
SECOND STEP ON OCTOBER 20, WHEN HE FORMALLY SET THE DATE FOR
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. CROATIA'S ELECTORAL LAW REMAINS
GENERALLY UNCHANGED SINCE THE LAST PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION IN
JANUARY 2000, DESPITE OSCE CALLS FOR AN OVERHAUL.
NONETHELESS, THE CONSENSUS OF ALL POLITICAL OBSERVERS AND
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTED IN CROATIA IS THAT
THE NOVEMBER 23 POLL WILL BE GENERALLY FREE AND FAIR. THIS
ASSESSMENT TAKES INTO ACCOUNT THE SHORTCOMINGS OF THE LAW BUT
ALSO A POLITICAL CULTURE WHICH OSCE ASSERTS HAS "IRREVOCABLY
CHANGED FOR THE BETTER." THIS TELEGRAM, TOGETHER WITH
DESCRIPTIONS OF LEADING POLITICAL FIGURES AND OF CROATIA'S
POLITICAL PARTIES (REFS) IS INTENDED TO SERVE AS A REFERENCE
FOR THOSE FOLLOWING CROATIA'S ELECTION. END SUMMARY.

CROATIA'S FIRST REFORM SABOR DISSOLVES
--------------


2. AFTER A FRENZY OF PASSING LAST-MINUTE LEGISLATION
FOLLOWED BY A SERIES OF FORMAL SPEECHES OF FOND RECOLLECTION
AND EVEN RECONCILIATION, CROATIA'S PARLIAMENT (SABOR)
DISSOLVED ITSELF ON THE AFTERNOON OF OCTOBER 17, 2003. THE
MOVE TOOK PLACE ACCORDING TO AN AGREEMENT MADE PUBLIC BY
COALITION LEADERS WELL IN ADVANCE. CROATIA'S CONSTITUTION
REQUIRES THE PRESIDENT TO SET AN ELECTION DATE NOT MORE THAN
60, BUT NOT LESS THAN 30 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THE SABOR'S
DISSOLUTION. ON OCTOBER 20, PRESIDENT MESIC CARRIED OUT THIS
DUTY AND ANNOUNCED THAT THE ELECTION WILL TAKE PLACE ON
NOVEMBER 23, AS EXPECTED. FROM THE MOMENT SPEAKER ZLATKO
TOMCIC GAVELED THE SABOR CLOSED ON NOVEMBER 17 UNTIL THE NEXT
PARLIAMENT TAKES POWER, ALL OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE SABOR IS
VESTED IN PM RACAN'S CABINET. FEW OBSERVERS, HOWEVER, EXPECT
THE LAME-DUCK GOVERNMENT TO MISUSE THIS AUTHORITY.

ELECTION SCHEDULE NOW FIXED
--------------


3. (U) NOW THAT PRESIDENT MESIC HAS OFFICIALLY FIRED THE

STARTING GUN, THE REST OF CROATIA'S ELECTORAL SCHEDULE IS
SET. POLITICAL PARTIES (AND INDEPENDENT POLITICAL GROUPS)
HAVE FOURTEEN DAYS TO SUBMIT THEIR LISTS OF CANDIDATES TO THE
STATE ELECTORAL COMMISSION (SEC). THE SEC THEN HAS 48 HOURS
TO REVIEW THE LISTS, AND ONCE THEY ARE CERTIFIED, THE FORMAL
CAMPAIGN BEGINS. THE "OFFICIAL" CAMPAIGN WILL THEREFORE
BEGIN ON NOVEMBER 5 AND WILL LAST UNTIL MIDNIGHT ON NOVEMBER
21, WHEN "ELECTION SILENCE" RULES GO INTO EFFECT.

FEW CHANGES TO CROATIA'S ELECTION LAW ...
--------------


4. (C) CROATIA'S ELECTORAL LAW WAS CRITICIZED BY THE OSCE'S
OFFICE FOR DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS (ODIHR)
AFTER THE JANUARY 2000 POLL. ODIHR THEN MADE SPECIFIC
SUGGESTIONS ON HOW THE LEGISLATION COULD BE CHANGED TO ENSURE
A MORE PROFESSIONAL AND DEMOCRATIC CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS.
DESPITE THE BEST INTENTIONS OF SOME OF THE SABOR'S LEADING
CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERTS, THE LAW REMAINS ESSENTIALLY
UNCHANGED. WHEN CROATIA'S POLITICAL THEORISTS GAVE UP THE
TASK OF ELECTION LAW OVERHAUL IN EARLY 2003, POLITICAL
REALISTS TOOK OVER; TWO CHANGES -- ONE COSMETIC AND ONE
SIGNIFICANT -- TO THE EXISTING LAW WERE PASSED. THESE
MODIFICATIONS TOOK CHANGES TO THE STRUCTURE OF CROATIA'S
LEGISLATIVE BRANCH INTO ACCOUNT (THE PARLIAMENT'S IRRELEVANT
UPPER HOUSE WAS ABOLISHED IN 2001) AND -- MORE IMPORTANTLY --
WHEN THE NEW CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ON NATIONAL MINORITIES WAS
PASSED, INCREASING THE NUMBER OF GUARANTEED SEATS TO
REPRESENTATIVES OF CROATIA'S MANY ETHNIC MINORITY WAS
INCREASED FROM THREE TO EIGHT.

... BUT "FREE AND FAIR" POLL EXPECTED
--------------


5. (C) DESPITE THE GOC'S FAILURE TO CHANGE THE ELECTION LAW,
ODIHR EXPERTS HAVE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION WHAT THEY TERMED
A "SEA CHANGE" IN THE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT IN CROATIA. AN
ODIHR EXPERT TEAM WHICH VISITED ZAGREB FROM SEPTEMBER 16 - 19
CITED CONFIDENCE IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS BY ALL RELEVANT
OBSERVERS AND RECOMMENDED THAT NO SHORT-TERM OBSERVERS BE
DEPLOYED TO CROATIA TO OBSERVE THE POLL ON ELECTION DAY.

"AD HOC" STATE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
--------------


6. (SBU) CROATIA LACKS A PERMANENT STATE ELECTORAL
COMMISSION, A FAILING WHICH ODIHR CRITICIZED IN 2000 AND

ZAGREB 00002259 001.2 OF 003

A.F.GODFREY FOR REASONS 1.5 (B,D)


1. (C) SUMMARY: THE CROATIAN PARLIAMENT DISSOLVED ON OCTOBER
17, THE FIRST FORMAL STEP IN A SERIES OF EVENTS WHICH WILL
LEAD TO ELECTIONS ON NOVEMBER 23. PRESIDENT MESIC TOOK THE
SECOND STEP ON OCTOBER 20, WHEN HE FORMALLY SET THE DATE FOR
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. CROATIA'S ELECTORAL LAW REMAINS
GENERALLY UNCHANGED SINCE THE LAST PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION IN
JANUARY 2000, DESPITE OSCE CALLS FOR AN OVERHAUL.
NONETHELESS, THE CONSENSUS OF ALL POLITICAL OBSERVERS AND
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTED IN CROATIA IS THAT
THE NOVEMBER 23 POLL WILL BE GENERALLY FREE AND FAIR. THIS
ASSESSMENT TAKES INTO ACCOUNT THE SHORTCOMINGS OF THE LAW BUT
ALSO A POLITICAL CULTURE WHICH OSCE ASSERTS HAS "IRREVOCABLY
CHANGED FOR THE BETTER." THIS TELEGRAM, TOGETHER WITH
DESCRIPTIONS OF LEADING POLITICAL FIGURES AND OF CROATIA'S
POLITICAL PARTIES (REFS) IS INTENDED TO SERVE AS A REFERENCE
FOR THOSE FOLLOWING CROATIA'S ELECTION. END SUMMARY.

CROATIA'S FIRST REFORM SABOR DISSOLVES
--------------


2. (C) AFTER A FRENZY OF PASSING LAST-MINUTE LEGISLATION
FOLLOWED BY A SERIES OF FORMAL SPEECHES OF FOND RECOLLECTION
AND EVEN RECONCILIATION, CROATIA'S PARLIAMENT (SABOR)
DISSOLVED ITSELF ON THE AFTERNOON OF OCTOBER 17, 2003. THE
MOVE TOOK PLACE ACCORDING TO AN AGREEMENT MADE PUBLIC BY
COALITION LEADERS WELL IN ADVANCE. CROATIA'S CONSTITUTION
REQUIRES THE PRESIDENT TO SET AN ELECTION DATE NOT MORE THAN
60, BUT NOT LESS THAN 30 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THE SABOR'S
DISSOLUTION. ON OCTOBER 20, PRESIDENT MESIC CARRIED OUT THIS
DUTY AND ANNOUNCED THAT THE ELECTION WILL TAKE PLACE ON
NOVEMBER 23, AS EXPECTED. FROM THE MOMENT SPEAKER ZLATKO
TOMCIC GAVELED THE SABOR CLOSED ON NOVEMBER 17 UNTIL THE NEXT
PARLIAMENT TAKES POWER, ALL OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE SABOR IS
VESTED IN PM RACAN'S CABINET. FEW OBSERVERS, HOWEVER, EXPECT
THE LAME-DUCK GOVERNMENT TO MISUSE THIS AUTHORITY.

ELECTION SCHEDULE NOW FIXED
--------------


3. (U) NOW THAT PRESIDENT MESIC HAS OFFICIALLY FIRED THE
STARTING GUN, THE REST OF CROATIA'S ELECTORAL SCHEDULE IS
SET. POLITICAL PARTIES (AND INDEPENDENT POLITICAL GROUPS)
HAVE FOURTEEN DAYS TO SUBMIT THEIR LISTS OF CANDIDATES TO THE
STATE ELECTORAL COMMISSION (SEC). THE SEC THEN HAS 48 HOURS
TO REVIEW THE LISTS, AND ONCE THEY ARE CERTIFIED, THE FORMAL
CAMPAIGN BEGINS. THE "OFFICIAL" CAMPAIGN WILL THEREFORE
BEGIN ON NOVEMBER 5 AND WILL LAST UNTIL MIDNIGHT ON NOVEMBER
21, WHEN "ELECTION SILENCE" RULES GO INTO EFFECT.

FEW CHANGES TO CROATIA'S ELECTION LAW ...
--------------


4. (C) CROATIA'S ELECTORAL LAW WAS CRITICIZED BY THE OSCE'S
OFFICE FOR DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS (ODIHR)
AFTER THE JANUARY 2000 POLL. ODIHR THEN MADE SPECIFIC
SUGGESTIONS ON HOW THE LEGISLATION COULD BE CHANGED TO ENSURE
A MORE PROFESSIONAL AND DEMOCRATIC CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS.
DESPITE THE BEST INTENTIONS OF SOME OF THE SABOR'S LEADING
CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERTS, THE LAW REMAINS ESSENTIALLY
UNCHANGED. WHEN CROATIA'S POLITICAL THEORISTS GAVE UP THE
TASK OF ELECTION LAW OVERHAUL IN EARLY 2003, POLITICAL
REALISTS TOOK OVER; TWO CHANGES -- ONE COSMETIC AND ONE
SIGNIFICANT -- TO THE EXISTING LAW WERE PASSED. THESE
MODIFICATIONS TOOK CHANGES TO THE STRUCTURE OF CROATIA'S
LEGISLATIVE BRANCH INTO ACCOUNT (THE PARLIAMENT'S IRRELEVANT
UPPER HOUSE WAS ABOLISHED IN 2001) AND -- MORE IMPORTANTLY --
WHEN THE NEW CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ON NATIONAL MINORITIES WAS
PASSED, INCREASING THE NUMBER OF GUARANTEED SEATS TO
REPRESENTATIVES OF CROATIA'S MANY ETHNIC MINORITY WAS
INCREASED FROM THREE TO EIGHT.

... BUT "FREE AND FAIR" POLL EXPECTED
--------------


5. (C) DESPITE THE GOC'S FAILURE TO CHANGE THE ELECTION LAW,
ODIHR EXPERTS HAVE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION WHAT THEY TERMED
A "SEA CHANGE" IN THE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT IN CROATIA. AN
ODIHR EXPERT TEAM WHICH VISITED ZAGREB FROM SEPTEMBER 16 - 19
CITED CONFIDENCE IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS BY ALL RELEVANT
OBSERVERS AND RECOMMENDED THAT NO SHORT-TERM OBSERVERS BE
DEPLOYED TO CROATIA TO OBSERVE THE POLL ON ELECTION DAY.

"AD HOC" STATE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
--------------


6. (SBU) CROATIA LACKS A PERMANENT STATE ELECTORAL
COMMISSION, A FAILING WHICH ODIHR CRITICIZED IN 2000 AND




ZAGREB 00002259 002.1 OF 003

TANDS UP" FOR EACH
ELECTION. CHAIRED BY THE PRESIDENT OF CROATIA'S SUPREME
COURT, THE ELEVEN-MEMBER SEC IS MADE UP OF LEADING
NON-PARTISAN JURISTS. FOUR WILL BE NAMED TO THE SEC BY THE
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, THE OTHER SIX ARE NAMED BY THE
GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSITION PARTIES. DESPITE ITS AD HOC
NATURE, THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE SEC IS STABLE.


7. (SBU) UNTIL IT CERTIFIES THE RESULTS OF THE NOVEMBER 23
ELECTION, THE SEC HAS NEARLY ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY IN CONDUCTING
THE POLL, SETTING RULES AND APPOINTING LOWER-LEVEL ELECTION
OFFICIALS. ONE OF THE SEC'S FIRST TASKS WILL BE TO PUBLISH
THE "MANDATORY INSTRUCTIONS" FOR THE ELECTION. THE SEC MUST
ALSO APPOINT DISTRICT ELECTORAL COMMISSIONS WHICH IN TURN
NAME THE ELECTORAL BOARD MEMBERS FOR EACH POLLING PLACE. THE
SEC DIRECTLY APPOINTS ELECTORAL BOARD MEMBERS FOR POLLING
PLACES OUTSIDE OF CROATIA.

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT HAS THE LAST WORD
--------------


8. (SBU) AN ETHICS COMMISSION APPOINTED BY CROATIA'S
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT (FROM NOMINEES OF GOVERNMENT AND
OPPOSITION PARTIES) OVERSEES THE CAMPAIGN AND THE ELECTION
PROCESS. THE PRESIDENT OF THE CROATIAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND
SCIENCES CHAIRS THE COMMISSION AS A SEVENTH MEMBER. THE
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SERVES AS THE FINAL ARBITER FOR APPEALS
OF DECISIONS MADE BY ELECTORAL COMMISSIONS.

TEN GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRICTS, 14 SEATS EACH, PLUS ...
-------------- --------------


9. (SBU) THE NUMBER OF MP'S IN THE CROATIAN SABOR IS NOT
FIXED; THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRES THE SABOR MUST HAVE FROM 100
TO 160 REPRESENTATIVES. CROATIA IS DIVIDED INTO TEN
ELECTORAL DISTRICTS OF APPROXIMATE EQUAL POPULATION SIZE.
EACH DISTRICT ELECTS 14 MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT. SEATS ARE
AWARDED TO PARTIES OR INDEPENDENT LISTS OF CANDIDATES WHICH
BREAK THE FIVE-PERCENT MINIMUM VOTE THRESHOLD IN THEIR
DISTRICT BASED ON THE D'HONDT METHOD. (POLITICAL JUNKIES
SEEKING A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THIS METHOD MAY CHOOSE TO
GO TO WWW.IFES.ORG.)

"DIASPORA" VOTE WILL BE CONTROVERSIAL
--------------


10. (C) ALL CROATIAN CITIZENS OUTSIDE OF CROATIA HAVE THE
RIGHT TO VOTE IN A SEPARATE DISTRICT, BUT THE NUMBER OF MP'S
ELECTED FROM THE 11TH OR "DIASPORA" DISTRICT IS NOT FIXED.
TO DETERMINE THE NUMBER OF DIASPORA MP'S, THE SEC DIVIDES THE
TOTAL NUMBER OF VOTES CAST ABROAD BY THE AVERAGE NUMBER
NEEDED TO WIN A MANDATE INSIDE OF CROATIA. THE MOST RECENT
SABOR HAD SIX DIASPORA MP'S -- ALL HDZ -- WHO WON THEIR SEATS
BASED ON A MASSIVE TURNOUT OF RIGHT-WING BOSNIAN CROAT
VOTERS. CHANGES IN REGULATIONS -- APPROVED BY THE
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT -- STIPULATE THAT VOTING ABROAD CAN ONLY
TAKE PLACE IN CROATIA'S DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS.
THIS MAY PLACE PHYSICAL LIMITS ON THE NUMBER OF BOSNIAN
CROATS ABLE TO VOTE SINCE THERE WILL BE ONLY FOUR POLLING
PLACES IN BIH (THE CROATIAN EMBASSY IN SARAJEVO AND
CONSULATES GENERAL IN MOSTAR, TUZLA AND BANJA LUKA). IN THE
JANUARY 2000 ELECTION THERE WERE MORE POLLING PLACES IN BIH;
THE HDZ GOVERNMENT BENT EVERY RULE TO ENSURE EVERY BOSNIAN
CROAT HAD A CHANCE TO VOTE.


11. (C) ODIHR EXPERTS HAVE SIGNALED THAT THEY WILL WATCH
DIASPORA VOTING CLOSELY. THEY WILL LIKELY CRITICIZE ANY GOC
EFFORTS TO USE ADMINISTRATIVE MEASURES (LIKE LIMITING THE
NUMBER OF POLLING PLACES) WHICH WOULD RESTRICT THE RIGHT OF
CROATIANS ABROAD TO EXERCISE THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO
VOTE. GOC LEADERS HAVE REJECTED THIS CRITICISM; THEY POINT
TO A PROVISION IN THE ELECTORAL LAW WHICH ALLOWS POLLING
PLACES OUTSIDE OF CROATIA TO REMAIN OPEN FOR TWO DAYS AS
SUFFICIENT TIME FOR ELIGIBLE VOTERS IN BIH TO GET TO THE
POLLS.

GREATER GUARANTEED MINORITY REPRESENTATION
--------------


12. (SBU) RESPONDING TO INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE TO ASSURE
CROATIA'S MINORITIES WERE GIVEN A GREATER VOICE IN
PARLIAMENT, THE RACAN GOVERNMENT PASSED THE LANDMARK
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ON NATIONAL MINORITIES (CLNM) IN DECEMBER

2002. THIS LAW, WIDELY PRAISED BY THE INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITY, INCREASED THE NUMBER OF SEATS RESERVED FOR
CROATIA'S ETHNIC MINORITIES FROM FIVE TO EIGHT; THE SERB
MINORITY WILL BE GUARANTEED THREE SEATS. MINORITY VOTERS
MUST CHOOSE WHETHER TO VOTE AS MINORITIES OR AS RESIDENTS IN
ONE OF THE TEN GEOGRAPHICAL ELECTORAL DISTRICTS. MINORITY
REPRESENTATIVES OBJECTED TO BEING FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN
THE MINORITY OR "REGULAR" LISTS AND APPEALED TO THE

ZAGREB 00002259 002.2 OF 003

TANDS UP" FOR EACH
ELECTION. CHAIRED BY THE PRESIDENT OF CROATIA'S SUPREME
COURT, THE ELEVEN-MEMBER SEC IS MADE UP OF LEADING
NON-PARTISAN JURISTS. FOUR WILL BE NAMED TO THE SEC BY THE
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, THE OTHER SIX ARE NAMED BY THE
GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSITION PARTIES. DESPITE ITS AD HOC
NATURE, THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE SEC IS STABLE.


7. (SBU) UNTIL IT CERTIFIES THE RESULTS OF THE NOVEMBER 23
ELECTION, THE SEC HAS NEARLY ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY IN CONDUCTING
THE POLL, SETTING RULES AND APPOINTING LOWER-LEVEL ELECTION
OFFICIALS. ONE OF THE SEC'S FIRST TASKS WILL BE TO PUBLISH
THE "MANDATORY INSTRUCTIONS" FOR THE ELECTION. THE SEC MUST
ALSO APPOINT DISTRICT ELECTORAL COMMISSIONS WHICH IN TURN
NAME THE ELECTORAL BOARD MEMBERS FOR EACH POLLING PLACE. THE
SEC DIRECTLY APPOINTS ELECTORAL BOARD MEMBERS FOR POLLING
PLACES OUTSIDE OF CROATIA.

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT HAS THE LAST WORD
--------------


8. (SBU) AN ETHICS COMMISSION APPOINTED BY CROATIA'S
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT (FROM NOMINEES OF GOVERNMENT AND
OPPOSITION PARTIES) OVERSEES THE CAMPAIGN AND THE ELECTION
PROCESS. THE PRESIDENT OF THE CROATIAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND
SCIENCES CHAIRS THE COMMISSION AS A SEVENTH MEMBER. THE
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SERVES AS THE FINAL ARBITER FOR APPEALS
OF DECISIONS MADE BY ELECTORAL COMMISSIONS.

TEN GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRICTS, 14 SEATS EACH, PLUS ...
-------------- --------------


9. (SBU) THE NUMBER OF MP'S IN THE CROATIAN SABOR IS NOT
FIXED; THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRES THE SABOR MUST HAVE FROM 100
TO 160 REPRESENTATIVES. CROATIA IS DIVIDED INTO TEN
ELECTORAL DISTRICTS OF APPROXIMATE EQUAL POPULATION SIZE.
EACH DISTRICT ELECTS 14 MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT. SEATS ARE
AWARDED TO PARTIES OR INDEPENDENT LISTS OF CANDIDATES WHICH
BREAK THE FIVE-PERCENT MINIMUM VOTE THRESHOLD IN THEIR
DISTRICT BASED ON THE D'HONDT METHOD. (POLITICAL JUNKIES
SEEKING A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THIS METHOD MAY CHOOSE TO
GO TO WWW.IFES.ORG.)

"DIASPORA" VOTE WILL BE CONTROVERSIAL
--------------


10. (C) ALL CROATIAN CITIZENS OUTSIDE OF CROATIA HAVE THE
RIGHT TO VOTE IN A SEPARATE DISTRICT, BUT THE NUMBER OF MP'S
ELECTED FROM THE 11TH OR "DIASPORA" DISTRICT IS NOT FIXED.
TO DETERMINE THE NUMBER OF DIASPORA MP'S, THE SEC DIVIDES THE
TOTAL NUMBER OF VOTES CAST ABROAD BY THE AVERAGE NUMBER
NEEDED TO WIN A MANDATE INSIDE OF CROATIA. THE MOST RECENT
SABOR HAD SIX DIASPORA MP'S -- ALL HDZ -- WHO WON THEIR SEATS
BASED ON A MASSIVE TURNOUT OF RIGHT-WING BOSNIAN CROAT
VOTERS. CHANGES IN REGULATIONS -- APPROVED BY THE
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT -- STIPULATE THAT VOTING ABROAD CAN ONLY
TAKE PLACE IN CROATIA'S DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS.
THIS MAY PLACE PHYSICAL LIMITS ON THE NUMBER OF BOSNIAN
CROATS ABLE TO VOTE SINCE THERE WILL BE ONLY FOUR POLLING
PLACES IN BIH (THE CROATIAN EMBASSY IN SARAJEVO AND
CONSULATES GENERAL IN MOSTAR, TUZLA AND BANJA LUKA). IN THE
JANUARY 2000 ELECTION THERE WERE MORE POLLING PLACES IN BIH;
THE HDZ GOVERNMENT BENT EVERY RULE TO ENSURE EVERY BOSNIAN
CROAT HAD A CHANCE TO VOTE.


11. (C) ODIHR EXPERTS HAVE SIGNALED THAT THEY WILL WATCH
DIASPORA VOTING CLOSELY. THEY WILL LIKELY CRITICIZE ANY GOC
EFFORTS TO USE ADMINISTRATIVE MEASURES (LIKE LIMITING THE
NUMBER OF POLLING PLACES) WHICH WOULD RESTRICT THE RIGHT OF
CROATIANS ABROAD TO EXERCISE THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO
VOTE. GOC LEADERS HAVE REJECTED THIS CRITICISM; THEY POINT
TO A PROVISION IN THE ELECTORAL LAW WHICH ALLOWS POLLING
PLACES OUTSIDE OF CROATIA TO REMAIN OPEN FOR TWO DAYS AS
SUFFICIENT TIME FOR ELIGIBLE VOTERS IN BIH TO GET TO THE
POLLS.

GREATER GUARANTEED MINORITY REPRESENTATION
--------------


12. (SBU) RESPONDING TO INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE TO ASSURE
CROATIA'S MINORITIES WERE GIVEN A GREATER VOICE IN
PARLIAMENT, THE RACAN GOVERNMENT PASSED THE LANDMARK
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ON NATIONAL MINORITIES (CLNM) IN DECEMBER

2002. THIS LAW, WIDELY PRAISED BY THE INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITY, INCREASED THE NUMBER OF SEATS RESERVED FOR
CROATIA'S ETHNIC MINORITIES FROM FIVE TO EIGHT; THE SERB
MINORITY WILL BE GUARANTEED THREE SEATS. MINORITY VOTERS
MUST CHOOSE WHETHER TO VOTE AS MINORITIES OR AS RESIDENTS IN
ONE OF THE TEN GEOGRAPHICAL ELECTORAL DISTRICTS. MINORITY
REPRESENTATIVES OBJECTED TO BEING FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN
THE MINORITY OR "REGULAR" LISTS AND APPEALED TO THE


FOR MERGING. ORIG BY 38

ZAGREB 00002259 003.1 OF 003

T LIMITED TO
RUNNING ON MINORITY SLATES AND IN FACT ETHNIC MINORITY
POLITICIANS PLAY LEADERSHIP ROLES IN A FEW OF CROATIA'S MORE
PROGRESSIVE POLITICAL PARTIES.

TRANSPARENCY IN CAMPAIGN FINANCING
--------------


13. (SBU) POLITICAL PARTIES MUST PUBLICIZE THEIR APPROXIMATE
CAMPAIGN BUDGET AND THE SOURCE OF CONTRIBUTIONS BY THE
BEGINNING OF THE "OFFICIAL" CAMPAIGN ON NOVEMBER 5.
CAMPAIGNING EXPENSES OF PARTIES AND MINORITIES ARE IN
PARTIALLY REIMBURSED FROM THE STATE BUDGET (70 MILLION KUNA
-- ABOUT 10.7 MILLION USD HAS BEEN APPROPRIATED TO FINANCE
THE CAMPAIGN). THE ELECTION LAW REQUIRES EQUAL TREATMENT OF
ALL CANDIDATES, INCLUDING FREE PRESENTATION IN PRIME TIME ON
NATIONAL RADIO AND TV. BEFORE THE PARLIAMENT DISSOLVED, IT
AGREED THAT EACH POLITICAL PARTY WOULD BE GRANTED A 45-MINUTE
BLOCK OF PRIME TIME ON THE STATE-OWNED TV CHANNEL AND 15
MINUTES OF PRIME TIME ON EVERY CHANNEL WHICH HAS BEEN GRANTED
A NATIONWIDE LICENSE TO BROADCAST.
FRANK

ZAGREB 00002259 003.2 OF 003

T LIMITED TO
RUNNING ON MINORITY SLATES AND IN FACT ETHNIC MINORITY
POLITICIANS PLAY LEADERSHIP ROLES IN A FEW OF CROATIA'S MORE
PROGRESSIVE POLITICAL PARTIES.

TRANSPARENCY IN CAMPAIGN FINANCING
--------------


13. (SBU) POLITICAL PARTIES MUST PUBLICIZE THEIR APPROXIMATE
CAMPAIGN BUDGET AND THE SOURCE OF CONTRIBUTIONS BY THE
BEGINNING OF THE "OFFICIAL" CAMPAIGN ON NOVEMBER 5.
CAMPAIGNING EXPENSES OF PARTIES AND MINORITIES ARE IN
PARTIALLY REIMBURSED FROM THE STATE BUDGET (70 MILLION KUNA
-- ABOUT 10.7 MILLION USD HAS BEEN APPROPRIATED TO FINANCE
THE CAMPAIGN). THE ELECTION LAW REQUIRES EQUAL TREATMENT OF
ALL CANDIDATES, INCLUDING FREE PRESENTATION IN PRIME TIME ON
NATIONAL RADIO AND TV. BEFORE THE PARLIAMENT DISSOLVED, IT
AGREED THAT EACH POLITICAL PARTY WOULD BE GRANTED A 45-MINUTE
BLOCK OF PRIME TIME ON THE STATE-OWNED TV CHANNEL AND 15
MINUTES OF PRIME TIME ON EVERY CHANNEL WHICH HAS BEEN GRANTED
A NATIONWIDE LICENSE TO BROADCAST.
FRANK

NNNN