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The politics of Croatia are defined by a parliamentary representative democratic republic framework, where the Prime Minister of Croatia is the head of government, in a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government and the President of Croatia. Legislative power is vested in the Croatian Parliament (Croatian: Sabor). The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The parliament adopted the current Constitution of Croatia on 22 December 1990, and decided to declare independence from Yugoslavia. The declaration of independence came into effect on 8 October 1991. The constitution was amended several times since then. The first modern parties in the country developed in the middle of the 19th century, and their agenda and appeal changed reflecting major social changes—breakup of Austria-Hungary and formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, dictatorship and social upheavals in the kingdom, World War II, establishment of Communist rule and breakup of the SFR Yugoslavia.
The President of the Republic (Croatian: Predsjednik Republike) is the head of state, directly elected to a five-year term and the commander in chief of the Croatian armed forces. The government (Croatian: Vlada), the main executive power of Croatia, is headed by the prime minister, who has four deputy prime ministers, three of whom also serve as government ministers in addition to 17 other ministers, in charge of particular activities. The executive branch is responsible for proposing legislation and a budget, executing the laws, and guiding the foreign and internal policies. The parliament is a unicameral legislative body. The number of Sabor representatives ranges from 100 to 160; they are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. The powers of the legislature include enactment and amendment of the constitution and laws; adoption of the government budget; declarations of war and peace; defining national boundaries; calling referendums; elections, appointments, and relief of officers; supervising the Government of Croatia and other holders of public powers responsible to the Sabor; and granting amnesty. Croatian constitution and legislation provide for regular elections for the office of the president of the republic, the parliament, county prefects and assemblies, as well as city and municipal mayors and councils.
Croatia has a three-tiered, independent judicial system governed by the Constitution of Croatia and national legislation enacted by Sabor. The Supreme Court (Croatian: Vrhovni sud) is the highest court of appeal in Croatia. There are other specialised courts in Croatia—commercial courts and the Superior Commercial Court, misdemeanour courts, the Superior Misdemeanour Court, the Administrative Court and the Croatian Constitutional Court (Croatian: Ustavni sud). State Attorney's Office represents the state in legal procedures.
Croatia is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic. Following the collapse of the ruling communist party in SFR Yugoslavia, Croatia adopted new constitution in 1990, replacing the 1974 constitution adopted by the Socialist Republic of Croatia and organised its first multi-party elections. The 1990 constitution still remains in force, however it was amended four times since its adoption—in 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2010. It declared independence on 8 October 1991 leading to the breakup of Yugoslavia and the country was internationally recognised by the United Nations in 1992. Under its 1990 constitution, Croatia operated a semi-presidential system until 2000 when it switched to a parliamentary system. Government powers in Croatia are divided into legislative, executive and judiciary powers. The legal system of Croatia is civil law, strongly influenced, as is the institutional framework, by the legal heritage of Austria-Hungary. By the time EU accession negotiations were completed on 30 June 2010, Croatian legislation was fully harmonised with the Community acquis.
The President of the Republic (Croatian: Predsjednik Republike) is the head of state, directly elected to a five-year term and is limited by the Constitution to a maximum of two terms. In addition to being the commander in chief of the armed forces, the president has the procedural duty of appointing the prime minister with the consent of the Sabor (Parliament) through a simple majority vote, and the President has some influence on foreign policy. The most recent presidential elections were held on 10 January 2010, when Ivo Josipović won. He took the oath of office on 18 February 2010. Besides limiting holders of the presidential office to two terms, the constitution also prevents the president from being a member of any political party. Consequently, the president-elect withdraws from party membership before inauguration. President Josipović did so on 15 February 2010.
The government (Croatian: Vlada), the main executive power of the Croatian state, is headed by the prime minister, who has four deputies, three of whom also serve as government ministers and 17 other ministers, appointed by the prime minister with the consent of the Sabor, in charge of particular sectors of activity. As of 23 December 2011, Deputy Prime Ministers are Radimir Čačić, Neven Mimica, Branko Grčić, and Milanka Opačić. Government ministers are from the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP), and the Croatian People's Party - Liberal Democrats (HNS) and Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS). The executive branch is responsible for proposing legislation and a budget, executing the laws, and guiding the foreign and internal policies of the republic. Government's official residence is at Banski dvori. Since 23 December 2011, the prime minister of the government has been Zoran Milanović.
|President||Ivo Josipović||Social Democratic Party||18 February 2010|
|Prime Minister||Zoran Milanović||Social Democratic Party||23 December 2011|
The parliament (Croatian: Sabor) is a unicameral legislative body. A second chamber, the Chamber of Counties (Croatian: Županijski dom), was set up in 1993 pursuant to the 1990 Constitution. The Chamber of Counties used to be composed of three deputies from each of the 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. However, as it had no practical power over the Chamber of Representatives, in 2001 it was abolished and its powers transferred directly to the county governments. The number of Sabor representatives can vary from 100 to 160; they are all elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. 140 members are elected in multi-seat constituencies, up to 6 members chosen by proportional representation to represent Croatians residing abroad and 5 members represent ethnic and national communities or minorities. The two largest political parties in Croatia are the SDP and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). The last parliamentary elections were held on 4 December 2011 in Croatia and on 3 and 4 December 2011 abroad.
The Sabor meets in public sessions in two periods: January 15 to June 30, and September 15 to December 15. Extra sessions can be called by the President of the Republic, by the President of the Parliament or by Government. The powers of the legislature include enactment and amendment of the constitution; passage of laws; adoption of the state budget; declarations of war and peace; alteration of the boundaries of the Republic; calling referendums; carrying out elections, appointments, and relief of office; supervising the work of the Government of Croatia and other holders of public powers responsible to the Sabor; and granting amnesty. Decisions are made based on a majority vote if more than half of the Chamber is present, except in cases of constitutional issues.
Croatian constitution and legislation provide for regular elections for the office of the president of the republic, the parliament, county prefects, county assemblies, city and municipal mayors as well as city and municipal councils. President of the Republic is elected to a five year term, by a direct vote of all citizens of Croatia, with a majority vote required to win. A runoff election round is held in case no candidate secures the majority in the first round of voting. The presidential elections are regulated by the constitution and dedicated legislation, however the latter defines technical details, appeals and similar issues only.
140 members of the parliament are elected to a four-year term in ten multi-seat constituencies. The constituencies are defined on the basis of the existing county borders, with necessary amendments to achieve uniform number of eligible voters in each constituency to within 5% variation. Another constituency is defined for citizens of Croatia living abroad, however its number of seats was not fixed for the last parliamentary election. It was instead calculated based on numbers of votes cast in the ten constituencies in Croatia and the votes cast in the 11th constituency, set up for those living outside Croatia. In the 2007 parliamentary election the constituency elected five MPs. Constitutional changes have abolished the scheme and assigned permanently three MPs to the 11th constituency, and the changes were first applied in the 2011 parliamentary election. Additional eight members of the parliament are elected by voters belonging to 22 recognized minorities in Croatia: Serb minority elects three MPs, Hungarians and Italians elect one MP each, Czech and Slovak minorities elect one MP jointly, while all other minorities elect two more MPs to the parliament. Standard D'Hondt formula is applied to the vote, with a 5% election threshold. The last parliamentary election, held in 2011 elected 151 MPs.
The county prefects, city and municipal mayors are elected to four-year terms, by majority of votes cast within applicable local government units, with a runoff election if no candidate achieves majority in the first round of voting. Members of county, city and municipal councils are elected to four-year terms, through proportional representation with the entire local government unit as a single constituency. Number of members of the councils is defined by the councils themselves based on applicable legislation. Electoral committees are then tasked with determining whether the national minorities are represented in the council as required by the constitution, adding further members to the council, who belong to the appropriate minorities, selecting them from electoral candidate lists and who have not been elected through the proportional representation system.
|Ivo Josipović||Social Democratic Party of Croatia||640,594||32.42||1,339,385||60.26|
|Andrija Hebrang||Croatian Democratic Union||237,998||12.04|
|Vesna Pusić||Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats||143,190||7.25|
|Damir Kajin||Istrian Democratic Assembly||76,411||3.87|
|Slavko Vukšić||Democratic Party of Slavonia Plain||8,309||0.42|
The percentages of votes from each candidate are calculated from number of valid voters
|Source: State Election Committee – the first round, runoff;|
|Parties and coalitions||Votes||%||Seats||%||+/–[A]||+/–[B]|
|Domestic electoral districts (1st–10th)|
|Kukuriku coalition (Kukuriku koalicija)||Social Democratic Party of Croatia (Socijaldemokratska partija Hrvatske)||958,312||40.4%||61||40.4%||+5||+8[C]|
|Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats (Hrvatska narodna stranka - Liberalni demokrati)||13||8.6%||+6||+8[D]|
|Istrian Democratic Assembly (Istarski demokratski sabor)||3||2.0%||±0||±0|
|Croatian Party of Pensioners (Hrvatska stranka umirovljenika)||3||2.0%||+2||+2|
|HDZ, incl. coalitions||Croatian Democratic Union (Hrvatska demokratska zajednica)||554,765||23.4%||41||29.1%||–20||–19[E]|
|Croatian Citizen Party (Hrvatska građanska stranka)||2||1.3%||+2||+2|
|Democratic Centre (Demokratski centar)||1||0.7%||+1||+1|
|Croatian Labourists – Labour Party (Hrvatski laburisti - Stranka rada)||121,785||5.1%||6||4.0%||+6||+5[F]|
|Croatian Democratic Alliance of Slavonia and Baranja (Hrvatski demokratski savez Slavonije i Baranje)||68,995||2.9%||6||4.0%||+3||+2[G]|
|Independent list Ivan Grubišić (Neovisna lista Ivan Grubišić)||66,266||2.8%||2||1.3%||+2||+2|
|Croatian Peasant Party · Green Party · Pensioners' Party (Hrvatska seljačka stranka · Zelena stranka · Stranka penzionera)||71,450||3.0%||1||0.7%||–5||–5|
|Croatian Party of Rights dr. Ante Starčević · Croatian Pure Party of Rights (Hrvatska stranka prava dr. Ante Starčević · Hrvatska čista stranka prava)||66,150||2.8%||1||0.7%||+1||+1|
|Croatian Party of Rights (Hrvatska stranka prava)||72,360||3.0%||0||—||–1||–1|
|Croatian Social Liberal Party (Hrvatsko socijalno-liberalna stranka)||71,077||3.0%||0||—||–2||±0[H]|
|Bloc Pensioners Together (Blok umirovljenici zajedno) - Alliance of Primorje-Gorski Kotar (Primorsko-goranski savez) - Croatian Labour Party (Hrvatska radnička stranka)||66,239||2.8%||0||—||±0||–1[I]|
|Domestic turnout||2,373,538 (61.77%)|
|District XI - Croatian citizens living abroad|
|Croatian Democratic Union - District XI list||15,016||71.98%||3||1.98%||-2||-2|
|Croatian Party of Rights - District XI list||2,105||10.09%||0||—||±0||±0|
|Other District XI lists||3,979||18.85%||0||—||±0||±0|
|District XI turnout||21,100 (5.12%)|
|Statistics for the first 11 electoral districts|
|Valid votes||2,394,638 (56.29%)|
|Invalid votes||41,173 (1.72%)|
|District XII - National minority electoral district|
|Independent Democratic Serb Party (Samostalna demokratska srpska stranka) - Serb national minority||Differing election system||3||2.0%||±0||±0|
|Kukuriku coalition – Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats - Czech and Slovak national minorities||1||0.7%||+1||+1|
|Other national minority representatives||4||2.6%||–1||–1|
|Total parliamentary seats||151||100.0%||–2||–2|
|Sources: State Election Committee; Vjesnik|
Croatia has a three-tiered, independent judicial system governed by the Constitution of Croatia and national legislation enacted by Sabor. The Supreme Court (Croatian: Vrhovni sud) is the highest court of appeal in Croatia. The Supreme Court hearings are open, and judgments are made publicly, except in issues of privacy of the accused. Judges are appointed by the National Judicial Council and judicial office is permanent (until seventy years of age). The President of the Supreme Court is elected for a four-year term by the Croatian Parliament at the proposal of the President of the Republic. The Supreme Court has civil and criminal departments and the president of the Supreme Court is Branko Hrvatin. The lower two levels of the three-tiered judiciary consist of county courts and municipal courts. There are fifteen county courts in and 67 municipal courts in the country.
Furthermore there are other specialised courts in Croatia. They comprise commercial courts and the Superior Commercial Court, misdemeanour courts, the Superior Misdemeanour Court, the Administrative Court and the Croatian Constitutional Court (Croatian: Ustavni sud). The Constitutional Court rules on matters regarding compliance of legislation with the constitution and repeals unconstitutional legislation, reports any breaches of provisions of the constitution to the government and the parliament, declares the speaker of the parliament acting president upon petition from the government in cases of incapacitation of the president, issues consent to commencement of criminal procedures against or arrest of the president, hears appeals against decisions of the National Judicial Council. The court consists of thirteen judges elected by members of the parliament for an eight-year term. The president of the Constitutional Court is elected by the court judges for a four-year term. President of the Constitutional Court of Croatia is Jasna Omejec. The National Judicial Council (Croatian: Državno Sudbeno Vijeće) appoints all judges and court presidents, except in case of the Supreme Court. It is a body consisting of eleven members, specifically seven judges, two university professors of law and two parliament members, nominated and elected by the Parliament for four-year terms, and no more than two terms. President of the National Judicial Council is Ranko Marijan, who is also a Supreme Court judge.
State Attorney's Office represents the state in legal procedures. Mladen Bajić is the General State Attorney, and there are 23 deputies in the central office and lower-ranking State Attorneys at 15 county and 33 municipal State Attorney's Offices. The General State Attorney is appointed by the parliament. A special State Attorney's Office dedicated to combatting corruption and organized crime, USKOK, was set up in late 2001.
Croatia was first subdivided into counties (Croatian: županija) in the Middle Ages. The divisions changed over time to reflect losses of territory to Ottoman conquest and subsequent liberation of the same territory, changes of political status of Dalmatia, Dubrovnik and Istria. Traditional division of the country into counties was abolished in the 1920s, when the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and subsequent Kingdom of Yugoslavia introduced oblasts and banovinas respectively. Communist ruled Croatia, as a constituent part of post-WWII Yugoslavia, abolished earlier divisions and introduced municipalities, subdividing Croatia into approximately one hundred municipalities. Counties were reintroduced in 1992 legislation, significantly altered in terms of territory relative to the pre-1920s subdivisions: In 1918, the Transleithanian part of Croatia was divided into eight counties with their seats in Bjelovar, Gospić, Ogulin, Požega, Vukovar, Varaždin, Osijek and Zagreb, and the 1992 legislation established 15 counties in the same territory. Since the counties were re-established in 1992, Croatia is divided into 20 counties and the capital city of Zagreb, the latter having the authority and legal status of a county and a city at the same time. Borders of the counties changed in some instances since, with the latest revision taking place in 2006. The counties subdivide into 127 cities and 429 municipalities.
The county prefects, city and municipal mayors are elected to four-year terms, by majority of votes cast within applicable local government units, with a runoff election if no candidate achieves majority in the first round of voting. Members of county, city and municipal councils are elected to four-year terms, through proportional representation with the entire local government unit as a single constituency. Number of members of the councils is defined by the councils themselves based on applicable legislation. Electoral committees are then tasked with determining whether the national minorities are represented in the council as required by the constitution, adding further members to the council, who belong to the appropriate minorities, selecting them from electoral candidate lists and who have not been elected through the proportional representation system. Election silence, as in all other types of elections in Croatia, is enforced on the day of the elections and the previous day, ending at 7 in the evening, which is the time when the polling stations close and exit polls may be announced. Out of six nationwide local elections held in Croatia since 1990, the most recent were the 2009 local elections to elect county prefects and councils, as well as city and municipal councils and mayors. At that occasion HDZ-led coalitions won majority or plurality in 15 county councils, and 13 county prefect elections. SDP-led coalitions won majority or plurality in five county councils, including the city of Zagreb council, and the single remaining county council election was won by IDS-SDP coalition. The SDP won four county prefect elections and the city of Zagreb mayoral election, the HSS won three county prefect elections, and the HNS and the HDSSB won a single county prefect election each.
|City of Zagreb||Zagreb||641||792,875|
Events of 1848 in Europe and in in the Austrian Empire represent a watershed in Croatian society and politics, as it symbolizes the Croatian national revival that strongly influenced and significantly shaped political and social events in Croatia from that point onwards to the end of the 20th century. At the time, Sabor and Ban Josip Jelačić advocated implicit severance of ties with the Kingdom of Hungary, emphasizing links to other South Slavic lands within the empire. In the period, several prominent Croatian political figures emerged, such as Ante Starčević, Eugen Kvaternik, Franjo Rački and Josip Juraj Strossmayer. A period of neo-absolutism was followed by Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and Croatian–Hungarian Settlement recognizing limited independence of Croatia. This was compounded by Croatian claims of uninterrupted statehood since the early Middle Ages as a basis for a modern state. Two political parties that evolved in the 1860s and contributed significantly to the sentiment were the Party of Rights led by Starčević and Kvaternik, and the People's Party led by Janko Drašković, Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski, Josip Juraj Strossmayer and Ivan Mažuranić. They were opposed by the National Constitutional Party who were in power for most of the period between the 1860s and the 1918, advocating closer ties between Croatia and Hungary. Other significant parties formed in the era were the Serb People's Independent Party, who would later form the Croat-Serb Coalition with the Party of Rights and other Croat and Serb parties. The Coalition ruled Croatia between 1903 and 1918. Leaders of the Coalition were Frano Supilo and Svetozar Pribićević. Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), established in 1904 and led by Stjepan Radić, advocated Croatian autonomy but achieved only moderate gains by 1918. In Dalmatia, two major parties were the People's Party, a branch of the People's Party active in Croatia-Slavonia and the Autonomist Party, advocating maintaining autonomy of Dalmatia, opposite to the People's Party demands for unification of Croatia-Slavonia and Dalmatia. The Autonomist Party, most notably led by Antonio Bajamonti, was also linked to Italian irredentism. By 1900s, the Party of Rights also made considerable gains in Dalmatia. The Autonomists won the first three elections, while all others since 1870 were won by the People's Party. In 1861–1918 there were 17 elections in the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia and 10 in the Kingdom of Dalmatia.
After establishment of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the HSS established itself as the most popular Croatian political parties, and one of the most successful parties in the country despite efforts to ban the party. The 1921 constitution defining the country as a unitary state and abolition of historical administrative divisions effectively ended Croatian autonomy and it was opposed by HSS. The political situation deteriorated further as Stjepan Radić of HSS was assassinated in National Assembly in 1928, leading to the dictatorship of King Alexander in January 1929. The HSS, now led by Vladko Maček, continued to advocate federalization of Yugoslavia, resulting in the Cvetković–Maček Agreement of August 1939 and the autonomous Banovina of Croatia. The Yugoslav government retained control of defence, internal security, foreign affairs, trade, and transport while other matters were left to the Croatian Sabor and a crown-appointed Ban. The establishment was soon made obsolete with beginning of the World War II, establishment of the Independent State of Croatia which banned all political opposition. Since then, the HSS continues to operate abroad. After the war, the Communists ran unopposed in elections of 1945 as other parties abstained. Once in power, the Communists introduced a single-party political system, with the Communist Party of Yugoslavia as the ruling party and the Communist Party of Croatia as its branch. In 1971, Croatian national movement seeking greater civil rights and decentralization of the Yugoslav economy, culminated as Croatian Spring, suppressed by Yugoslav leadership. In January 1990, the Communist Party fragmented along national lines, with the Croatian faction demanding a looser federation.
In 1989, the government of the Socialist Republic of Croatia decided to tolerate political parties in response to growing demands to allow political activities outside the Communist party. The first political party founded in Croatia since beginning of the Communist rule was the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), established on 20 May 1989, followed by the Croatian Democratic Union on 17 June 1989. In December, Ivica Račan became the head of the reformed Communist party. At the same time, the party decided to cancel political trials, release political prisoners and to endorse a multi-party political system. The Civil Organisations Act was formally amended to allow political parties on 11 January 1990, legalising the parties founded until then. By the time of the first round of the first multi-party elections, held on 22 April 1990, there were 33 registered parties. Still, the most relevant parties and coalitions were the renamed Communist party—League of Communists of Croatia - Party of Democratic Changes, the HDZ and the Coalition of People's Accord (KNS), which included the HSLS led by Dražen Budiša and the HSS, which resumed operating in Croatia in December 1989. The runoff election was held on 6 May 1990. Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) led by Franjo Tuđman won ahead of the reformed Communists and the KNS. The KNS, led by once leaders of the Croatian Spring, Savka Dabčević-Kučar and Miko Tripalo, soon splintered to individual parties. Even though the HDZ maintained a parliamentary majority until parliamentary elections of 2000 when it was defeated by the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP) led by Račan, Franjo Gregurić was appointed Prime Minister of Croatia to head a national unity government in July 1991 as the Croatian War of Independence escalated in intensity and his appointment lasted until August 1992. During his term, Croatia's declaration of independence took effect on 8 October. The HDZ returned to power in elections of 2003, while the SDP remains the largest opposition party.
Tuđman won presidential elections in 1992 and 1997. During his reign, Constitution of Croatia adopted in 1990 provided for a semi-presidential system. After his death in 1999, the constitution was amended and much of the presidential powers were transferred to the parliament and the government. Stjepan Mesić won two consecutive terms, in 2000 on Croatian People's Party (HNS) ticket and in 2005, the maximum permitted by the constitution. Ivo Josipović, an SDP candidate, won the presidential elections held in December 2009 and January 2010.