Committee okays all proposed changes to electoral law

The parliamentary Committee on the Constitution endorsed in the first reading on Thursday all five proposed amendments to the Election of Members of the Croatian Parliament Act, and Committee Chairman Pedja Grbin said that before the second reading the Committee aimed to find solutions that would be acceptable to all.

All the proposed amendments provide for the introduction of preferential voting, but are based on different models.

The ruling Social Democratic Party (SDP) proposed abolishing the practice of naming heads of election slates and introducing a provision under which all slates with fewer than 40 percent of candidates of an under-represented gender should be disqualified, while the ruling Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) and Furio Radin, the representative of the Italian minority, proposed that members of ethnic minorities be given an additional vote. The latter proposal was backed by SDP MP Nenad Stazic.

“This possibility is already envisaged by the Constitution and the Constitutional Law on the Rights of National Minorities. The present solution is bad and unfair. The number of minority MPs does not depend on the number of votes anyway, so why not allow them to vote like all other citizens, for any other slate,” Stazic said, noting that “this is not a double voting right but a right to an additional vote.”

The Committee members agreed that electoral legislation needed to be changed because it was so demanded by citizens, whose confidence in the democratic institutions is seriously shaken. They agreed that the law on political parties should also be amended so that the parties could become more democratic and voters could have a greater influence on decision-making within the parties.

Vladimir Seks of the strongest opposition Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party warned that it was illusory to expect that the reputation of Parliament and political parties would be improved by amending electoral legislation and introducing preferential voting.