Friday, 15 January 2021

July 2020 Parliamentary Election Costs HRK 8.5 mn Lower Than 2016 Election Costs

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - The July 2020 parliamentary election cost HRK 101.5 million (€13.53 million), HRK 8.5 million less than the election held in 2016, shows the final report of the State Election Commission (DIP) on the cost of last year's vote.

The lower election costs are a result of savings made on allowances for the work of election bodies, owing to changes in tax rules.

Material costs, amounting to HRK 22.3 million, were close to two million kuna higher than in 2016, due to measures introduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection.

Explaining why the final report was being published only now, DIP said that it adopts final reports on election costs only after the polling committees of the country's 12 constituencies have covered election costs in their constituencies.

Friday, 20 November 2020

Court Upholds Fine Against SDP Over Ex-MP's Electioneering in Parliament

ZAGREB, November 20, 2020 - The High Administrative Court has upheld a ruling by the Administrative Court and a State Election Commission decision to fine the Social Democratic Party (SDP) over former SDP MP Gordan Maras having displayed campaign messages on his laptop in parliament ahead of the 2019 European election.

Under the decision by the State Election Commission (DIP), the SDP was fined HRK 86,000 (approx. €11,500) for its former MP's conduct.

Ahead of the May 2019 EP elections, Maras displayed different promotional stickers in the parliament on his laptop such as "Vote Maras", and "Vote 007", which, DIP decided, violated the law on the financing of election campaigns because he used official parliament premises for electioneering.

DIP concluded that Maras showed extreme persistence in violating the law because he disregarded warnings to stop with that conduct.

Dissatisfied with DIP's decision, the SDP appealed with the Administrative Court in Zagreb, but that court too, ruled against the SDP, and its ruling has now been upheld by the High Administrative Court.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

71 Parties Failed to Report Donations

ZAGREB, July 29, 2020 - Of 167 registered political parties in Croatia, as many as 71 failed to report on donations received in the first half of the year, thus facing fines of between HRK 10,000 and 100,000.

All registered political parties, independent members of parliament and independent local councillors were required to report donations to the Electoral Commission (DIP) by midnight on July 15. The parties that failed to do so face fines of between HRK 10,000 (€1,333) and 100,000 (€13,333), while independent MPs and councillors face fines of up to HRK 20,000 (€2,666).

Whether they will be actually fined or not depends on whether the State Attorney's Office (DORH) decides that it is worthwhile to take legal action considering the fact that many of the parties did not receive any donations. If it decides to take action, a final decision on the amount of fine will be made by a court.

According to DIP, 96 parties submitted their reports, including nine that did so after the deadline. Among the parties that failed to do so are two parliamentary parties - the Croatian Social Liberal Party and the Workers' Front.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

DIP Says Has Received Few Complaints About Electioneering Ban Violation

ZAGREB, July 4, 2020 - Electoral silence, which is in force in Croatia on Saturday and Sunday, has been violated fewer times than at previous elections, Hina has learned from the State Electoral Commission (DIP).

Citizens have been complaining mostly about text messages and posts on social networks, seeking protection of personal data, and wondering how some election participants got their addresses to send them election-related mail, DIP deputy chair Vesna Fabijancic-Krizanic said.

Depending on the character of those complaints, DIP forwards them to the HAKOM regulatory authority for network industries or the Personal Data Protection Agency (AZOP).

We cannot say that the number of complaints is large, there have been much fewer complaints compared to previous elections, Fabijancic-Krizanic said.

Violations of the electioneering ban do not carry any penalties, but DIP has called for ethical behavior on the part of election participants and the media.

Friday, 3 July 2020

DIP: People Infected with COVID-19 Allowed to Vote by Proxy

ZAGREB, July 3, 2020 - The Electoral Commission (DIP) said on Friday that people infected with the novel coronavirus would be allowed to vote by proxy in Sunday's parliamentary election.

"Anyone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus infection will be able to vote with the help of another person of their confidence, who will fill in the ballot as instructed by the infected person," DIP spokesman Slaven Hojski told a press conference after the Constitutional Court said that DIP had a duty to ensure for infected people to be able to exercise their right to vote.

Hojski explained that after a call from a COVID positive person, a member of the polling committee will come in front of their house or apartment, without coming into direct contact with the infected person. The person of confidence will then fill in the ballot, put it in an envelope, and return it to the member of the polling committee outside the apartment.

"The infected person must not come into direct contact either with the member of the polling committee or with the ballot," DIP vice-president Ana Lovrin stressed.

The person of confidence is usually a member of the infected person's household.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

DIP: Restriction on Voting for Coronavirus-Positive Patients Protects Public Health

ZAGREB, July 2, 2020 - The Electoral Commission (DIP) said on Thursday that the restriction on voting for people infected with the coronavirus was imposed under the law and served the legitimate purpose of protecting public health from an infectious disease. 

"The restriction is appropriate to achieving this goal, and the Electoral Commission's opinion is that it is also necessary," DIP said in a response to GONG, a non-governmental election monitoring organisation that questioned its decision that voters infected with the novel COVID-19 coronavirus would not be allowed to vote in the July 5 parliamentary election.

"Any other, more lenient measure to achieve this goal would put the citizens' health at risk. In this case, we do not think that one can speak of a lower or higher level of damage to the citizens," the Electoral Commission said.

GONG had asked DIP to explain how its decision complied with fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Convention on Human Rights.

"Fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Convention may be restricted, but under strict conditions, as follows: a restriction must be explicit and clearly defined by law; it must serve a legitimate purpose; it must be appropriate and necessary for achieving such purpose; and there must not be any other more lenient measures in place, with a lower level of damage to the citizens, to achieve this purpose," GONG said.

Citing the law on protecting public health from infectious diseases, DIP said that voters diagnosed with COVID-19 would not be able to vote because they were ordered to self-isolate, which means that they are not allowed to come into contact with other persons, including members of polling committees.  It said that face masks and protective gloves could not provide sufficient protection for members of polling committees. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

DIP Partially Amends COVID Instructions for Election

ZAGREB, July 1, 2020 - The State Electoral Commission (DIP) on Wednesday partially amended recommendations concerning the arrival of eligible voters at polling stations for the July 5 parliamentary elections in the event that they have a high body temperature.

The recommendations have been made for the purpose of preventing the spread of the coronavirus infection.

DIP thus recommends that on Sunday morning eligible voters measure their body temperature and in the event that it is higher than 37.2°C and if they also have respiratory symptoms characteristic for the COVID-19 disease, they are supposed to telephone their doctors.

Under the amended recommendations, voters diagnosed with COVID-19 who are therefore isolated cannot vote during the elections as they are placed in isolation as a measure stipulated by Article 2 of the law on the protection of the population against infectious diseases, which bars infected persons from making physical contact with other persons, including polling committees' members. This means that under the amended instructions the ban on turning up at the polling stations or voting at home refers explicitly to active COVID-19 cases.

Other persons with elevated body temperatures that can be accompanied by other symptoms typical for the infection with coronavirus are now advised to telephone their doctors. The amended instructions do not explicitly mention that they are banned from turning up at polling stations to vote in the election or from arranging with polling committees a meeting at their home to vote there.

DIP explains that it has amended the instruction following various interpretations of its previous recommendations.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

SDP Leader Says DIP's Instructions Scandalous

ZAGREB, July 1, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardic said on Wednesday that instructions by the State Electoral Commission (DIP) on voting on election day in the context of the coronavirus pandemic were scandalous, calling on the government to enable all voters to go to the polls.

"Should it happen that some citizens are not enabled to vote, elections would be irregular. The government wanted elections, they made the decision and now they have to enable all citizens to participate in the elections in line with the Constitution," Bernardic said.

He called DIP's instructions scandalous because he believes that DIP is not authorised to ban people with a high temperature to vote.

"Have they made sure those people can exercise their right somehow, that is what this is about," he warned.

Bernardic stressed that a government that was unable to make it possible for all citizens to go to the polls was incapable of implementing elections or running the country.

The government has opened the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina as it counted on the votes of ethnic Croats crossing the border, Bernardic said, noting that Bosnia and Herzegovina were among European countries with the highest rates of new cases of COVID-19.

Commenting on the latest claims by Homeland Movement leader Miroslav Skoro that neither Andrej Plenkovic nor Bernardic could be prime minister, Bernardic said that Skoro was trying to form a coalition with the HDZ.

"He is hoping for a coalition with the HDZ and offering the prime minister the post of foreign minister. In the current situation, the message is very clear - a vote for Skoro is a vote for the HDZ and vice versa," said Bernardic.

He said his party's approval ratings were positive and that all surveys predicted victory for the SDP-led RESTART coalition.

Monday, 29 June 2020

DIP Says Epidemiological Measures to Be in Place During Voting on July 5

ZAGREB, June 29, 2020 - The State Electoral Commission (DIP) on Monday unveiled instructions on voting in the July 5 parliamentary election at polling stations and institutions for special care in the context of the coronavirus epidemic, including instructions for persons in self-isolation.

DIP chair Djuro Sessa said two technical recommendations were adopted, one on the implementation of elections at around 7,000 regular polling stations in Croatia and the other on voting in retirement homes.

Sessa called on all voters in self-isolation to contact their polling committees by Thursday so that those committees could make a work plan for Sunday.

According to DIP's recommendations, all polling stations will have to be washed and disinfected, all members of polling committees will have to wear face masks, and it has been recommended that they wear gloves as well. Gloves will be mandatory only for those members of polling committees who identify voters and those who have hand skin problems.

Disinfectants will be available at entrances to polling stations and their application will be controlled, the distance between polling booths will be 1.5 metres as will the distance between members of polling committees.

As for voting outside one's place of residence, those who cannot go to the polls due to health reasons and people in self-isolation have to report to polling committees at least three days before the election so they can vote at home, under strict compliance with epidemiological measures.

DIP recommends that voters take their temperature in the morning on election day and that if they have a temperature above 37.2 degrees Celsius, they should contact their doctor. In that case, they must not go to their polling station, just like people infected with COVID-19.

Voters are recommended to wear their own masks at polling stations as well as their own pens even though that is not obligatory. They will enter a polling station one by one, and it is desirable that they wait in the open. In the room where there is the polling committee, the number of voters will be limited to the number of polling booths.

For the sake of identification, voters will have to briefly remove their face masks while standing at a distance of two metres from members of the polling committee, said DIP deputy chair Ana Lovrin.

Epidemiological measures will be stricter for voting in retirement homes. Members of polling stations and monitors there will have to wear face masks, gloves, and shoe covers, constantly disinfecting hands and election material.

People who end up in self-isolation just before election day will be allowed to vote if they contact their polling station.

DIP said that regardless of the number of people in self-isolation, polling committees have sufficient capacity to enable voting for those who want to vote even though that right is not absolute and it has never been stated that 100% of those who have to stay at home will be able to vote, even if they register in advance.

People infected with COVID-19 will not be able to vote.

As for voters from Bosnia and Herzegovina, compulsory self-isolation for people coming from that country will be abolished.

Detailed instructions on voting in the July 5 election are available on DIP's web site.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Canada Only Country Where Croats Won't Be Able To Vote For Parl. Election

ZAGREB, June 8, 2020 - According to available information, Canada seems to be the only country where it won't be possible to organise voting for the Croatian parliamentary election set for July 5, the State Electoral Commission (DIP) confirmed to Hina on Monday.

The Croatian Embassy in Canada on Sunday informed that because of the coronavirus pandemic it will not be possible to hold the parliamentary election in that country on July 4 and 5.

Whether any other of the 50 or so countries that have confirmed that the election can be held, will cancel the organisation of voting of eligible Croatian voters on their territory cannot be said with any reliability before June 20.

"By 20 June DIP will have collected all the necessary permits via the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs in order to hold the election and based on that, it will adopt a resolution to define polling stations in diplomatic-consular offices in those countries that have approved the election and then the necessary election material will be forwarded," DIP said when asked about the final list of countries where the election will be held.

680 Croatian voters in Canada exercised their right to vote in the 2016 election

At the last parliamentary election in 2016, 680 people with Croatian citizenship in Canada exercised their right to vote.

The electoral roll has 8,199 Croatian citizens residing in Canada registered with the right to vote, and of the 682 went to the polls for the previous parliamentary elections for Croatia's legislature.

Asked what if some other countries take the same steps as Canada and whether that will impact the validity of the election, DIP said that it is a body the conducts the election and it does not decide on the date of the election nor can it influence countries to approve the election being held in their country.

The validity of elections is supervised by the Constitutional Court, DIP recalled.

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