Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Politics of Croatia
The Republic of Croatia (Croatian: Republika Hrvatska) is a parliamentary democracy with an elected president. It adopted its current constitution on December 22, 1990, and declared independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991.
Amendments to the Constitution have happened four times:
- December 15, 1997 -- additional minority rights and verbiage changes
- September 11, 2000 -- changed from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary system; parliament name reverted to historic Hrvatski Sabor
- March 28, 2001 -- Chamber of Counties abolished, the Parliament becomes unicameral
- June 15, 2001 -- administrivia
The Supreme Court (Vrhovni sud) of the Republic of Croatia is the highest court. 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 70 years of age). President of the Supreme Court is elected on 4-year term by the Croatian Parliament at the proposal of the President of the Republic.
The Constitutional Court (Ustavni sud) of the Republic of Croatia decides on the constitutionality of laws and has the right to repeal a law it finds unconstitutional. It also can impeach the president. The body is made up of 13 judges on 8-year term. The president of the Constitutional Court is elected by the court for a 4-year term.
The National Judicial Council (Državno Sudbeno Vijeće) of the Republic appoints all judges. It is a body consisting of a president and 14 members proposed and elected by the Parliament for 4-year terms, maximum 2 terms.
The Croatian legislature is the Hrvatski Sabor. The Sabor is unicameral which can have between 100 and 160 deputies (152 in 2003). All representatives are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms.
The Chamber of Counties or Županijski Dom used to be composed of three deputies from each of the 21 counties (županije). However, as it had no practical power over the Chamber of Representatives, in 2001, the Chamber was abolished and whatever powers it had were transferred directly to the county governments.
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 referenda; 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 national rights and constitutional issues.
The last parliamentary elections were held November 23 2003.
The main executive power of Croatian state is the government (in Croatian: "vlada"), presided by the Prime Minister. The government ministers (the cabinet) are appointed by the prime minister with the consent of the Parliament. The prime minister is the head of government, appointed by the President with the consent of the Parliament who takes his duty when Parliament gives its consent by absolute majority of all representatives.
Prime Minister: Ivo Sanader (since December 23 2003);
Deputy Prime Ministers: Jadranka Kosor (since December 23, 2003), Damir Polančec (since February 2005).
Government ministers are from Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) except from one minister from Democratic Centre (DC).
The President of the Republic of Croatia is the head of state and is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. A president may not serve more than two terms. The president has limited executive powers, he is still commander-of-chief of the armed forces, he cooperates in formulation and execution of the foreign policy and the national security policy, represents Croatia home and abroad, convenes Parliament and can bring issues at Government. Main and the most essential duty of the President is that he is granted power to issue decress with the force of law during war time.
The country is composed of 20 counties (županijas) and one city (grad, Zagreb). The counties and county centers are:
- Zagrebačka, Zagreb
- Krapinsko-zagorska, Krapina
- Sisačko-moslavačka, Sisak
- Karlovačka, Karlovac
- Varaždinska, Varaždin
- Koprivničko-križevačka, Koprivnica
- Bjelovarsko-bilogorska, Bjelovar
- Primorsko-goranska, Rijeka
- Ličko-senjska, Gospić
- Virovitičko-podravska, Virovitica
- Požeško-slavonska, Požega
- Brodsko-posavska, Slavonski Brod
- Zadarska, Zadar
- Osječko-baranjska, Osijek
- Šibensko-kninska, Šibenik
- Vukovarsko-srijemska, Vukovar
- Splitsko-dalmatinska, Split
- Istarska, Pazin
- Dubrovačko-neretvanska, Dubrovnik
- Međimurska, Čakovec
- Grad Zagreb
Counties are regional self-government units that carry out the affairs of regional significance, and in particular the affairs related to education, health service, area and urban planning, economic development, traffic and traffic infrastructure and the development of network of educational, health, social and cultural institutions.
In practice, this autonomy is very limited since counties must obbey national laws and executive orders from the national level.
Municipalities and towns are local self-government units that carry out the affairs of local jurisdiction by which the needs of citizens are directly fulfilled, and in particular the affairs related to the organization of localities and housing, area and urban planning, public utilities, child care, social welfare, primary health services, education and elementary schools, culture, physical education and sports, customer protection, protection and improvement of the environment, fire protection and civil defense.
History of political parties and events
The Croatian Communist Party was the only party during socialist Yugoslavia, 1945-1990. The change of the name to League of Communists of Croatia (Savez Komunista Hrvatske, SKH) in the fifties was intended to emphasize the advisory role of the party, while actual power was supposed to be in hands of the working class. There were very few controversies and factional clashes in the SKH. Among the most important was the so called "Croatian Spring" in 1971 when some leaders of the SKH, most notably Savka Dapcevic Kucar and Miko Tripalo attempted to increase the political and economical independence of Croatia from other Yugoslav republics. Although "Croatian Spring" was broken, the leaders lost their political position and were forced into isolation, and less important leaders were persecuted, practically all the intentions of the mentioned national leaders were accepted and introduced in Yugoslavian constitution from 1974.
That constitution was relatively unfortunate in a sense that it did not delimit the responsibilities of the republics and federation in Yugoslavia clearly. As a result, when League of Communists lost its unity and authority, and republics started to make opposite, even aggressive political movements, the central government of Yugoslavia was unable to act. As a result, neither a peaceful break up, nor a military putsch was possible in the time of crisis, and country ended in bloody, tragic war.
In the situation where Serb leaders, especially members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts and Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic started to threaten Croatia and prepare for a war, the first multi-party elections took place in 1990. The League of Communists changed its policy and name to the "Party of Democratic Changes" (SDP), however, the impression of the people was that this party could not respond on the Milosevic's threats adequately. The right-wing was represented by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), led by the communist general, later Croatian nationalist and dissident Franjo Tudjman.
Somewhere between SDP and HDZ, there was the so called "coalition" of many parties, like the Croatian Democratic Party (HDS), the Union of Social Democrats of Croatia (SDSH), and the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), led by persons known from "Croatian spring", including S. Dapcevic Kucar and M. Tripalo. However, coalition got surprisingly few votes during that election, and HDZ won easily.
The role of the HDZ in the wars in ex-Yugoslavia is not clearly determined yet. Although the party finally defended Croatia successfully, there are indications that it happened as a part of an agreement with Serbs for mutual division of another Yugoslavian republic, Bosnia and Hertzegovina. Also, increased crime in all parts of the society and a growing personal cult of Franjo Tudjman caused revival of the popularity of the at one moment almost dead ex-communist party.
Vujic's SDSH united with SDP. HSLS split into two parties, led by their charismatic leaders: Vlado Gotovac's Liberal Party, and the more nationalist Drazen Budisa won administrative control over HSLS. In following years, these two leaders, especially Budisa led inconsistent policy which resulted in a significant drop in support for the once third most important party in Croatia. D. Budisa even left the party at one point, but he was persuaded to return.
For the 2000 elections, the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP) and the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) formed a coalition as did the Croatian Peasants Party (HSS), Croatian People's Party (HNS), Liberal Party of Croatia (LS), and Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS).
The six-party center-left coalition was in power until June 2001 when IDS left the governing coalition over its inability to win greater autonomy for Istria.
HSLS split (again; the initial splitoff formed LS) in 2002; the main faction left the government while a dissenting faction formed LIBRA and stayed in power.
The SDP-led coalition remained in power until the legislative elections of 2003, when they narrowly lost the majority to HDZ and other center-right parties.
HDZ formed a government in December 2003, even though they haven't formed a major coalition with parties like HSS and HSP. It appears, however, that the new HDZ, under the leadership of I. Sanader, is positioned significantly more on the center than early HDZ was.
Accession to membership of the European Union is presently a stated national goal for most mainstream parties, although they vary in the amount of cooperation with the EU rules. The main issues remain in the areas of post-war recovery: both political (refugee return, war crime trials) and economic (agricultural import/export policy).
There is little doubt that some of the human rights are set to higher level, as for example a right to free political speech, and it appears that there is some increase in standard of living, but on the other side, increased crime rate at all levels of society, lack of security, inconsistent law enforcement, increasing foreign debt and cultural crisis are few elements that raise doubts and suggest that claims about superiority of the democracy shouldn't be taken without further discussion; instead, serious and sober analysis and evaluation of communist and democratic models seems to be necessary.
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