How electoral units have been tailored

15. November 2011.

The Bill on Electoral Districts, adopted in 1999 and tailored according to the needs of the then electoral body of HDZ, has shown a number of flaws. The author writes about this as well as other electoral bills, which expose some even more absurd situations.

The Bill on Electoral Districts, adopted in 1999 and tailored according to the needs of the then electoral body of HDZ, has shown a number of flaws. The author writes about this as well as other electoral bills, which expose some even more absurd situations.

The following text has been bylined under the pseudonym Daniel N. and has been taken from the website

We are facing yet another election. The previous four were held according to the same bill that divided Croatia into 10 electoral districts (the Bill on Electoral Districts was adopted in October 1999, ed. note). Each district chooses 14 MPs, and another two units – one for national minorities and the other for voters permanently residing outside the Republic of Croatia (the so-called “diaspora”).

Electoral Districts for the election of Members of Parliament in the Republic of Croatia 

Ever since such an arrangement of election districts was adopted, there have been disputes about their “inconsistency.” Some districts correspond more or less to natural districting (e.g. Slavonija is divided into two districts, one along the Drava River and the other along the Sava River), but some districts are completely arbitrary.

Two issues are conspicuously puzzling: the division of Zagreb and the situation in the vicinity of Rijeka.
Election districts have been tailored in such a way that each elects the same number of parliament members, which requires approximately the same number of voters. Since the mountainous parts of Croatia are less populated, the 7th election district was created to encompass Gorski Kotar, Karlovačka županija, and the settlements in the vicinity of Rijeka and Zagreb – as well as parts of Zagreb. To be correct, the city of Rijeka is in the 8th election district, but its surrounding municipalities and towns (actually the suburbs of Rijeka) -- Viškovo, Kastav, Bakar, and even Novi Vinodolski – are in the 7th election district, while Crikvenica and Opatija are with Rijeka in the 8th district. On the other hand, how is it that Zagreb has been divided? I could not find a meaningful map so I drew one myself (I adapted and colored the existing map of Zagreb).

Many inhabitants of Zagreb believe that the whole of the city belongs to the 1st election district. The reality is totally different and, as to be expected, pretty complicated.

Zagreb has 17 neighborhoods that are further divided into local councils (LC), which correspond to the “neighborhoods” or “districts” in the newer parts of Zagreb in everyday use (e.g. Gajnice).

Further complicating matters, the whole town of Zagreb does not account for the entire area of Zagreb; places like Sesvete, Brezovica, Odra make up separate settlements. The election districts do not always correspond to the borders of neighborhoods; they do, however, correspond to the LCs.
So, what makes up the 1st election district (neighborhoods have been bolded and the respective populations are noted in parentheses, all according to

* the entirety of Donji Grad (47,442)
* the entirety of Gornji Grad-Medveščak (37,455)
* the entirety of Maksimir (55,050)
* the entirety of Črnomerec (43,983)
* the entirety of Trešnjevka-Sjever (62,371)
* the entirety of Podsljeme (20,508)
* almost all of Trnje (48,980) excluding LC Kanal (1,700)
* almost all of Podsused-Vrapče (48,649) excluding LC Gajnice (10,315) and LC Stenjevec-Sjever (7,444)
* only two LCs from Trešnjevka-Jug: LC Horvati-Srednjaci (13,472) and LC Knežija (12,054)
* only LC Peščenica from Peščenica-Žitnjak (6,432) and LC Oton Župančič (former Mile Budak, 1,761)
* only LC Matija Gubec from Stenjevec (4,148) and LC Vrapče-Jug (5,887)

When these figures are added up, the result is 388,733 inhabiting the 1st election district of Zagreb. Included among them are the citizens of Zaprešić and its surrounding municipalities.

Dubrava and Sesvete are in the 2nd election district:

* the entirety of Gornja Dubrava (70,519)
* the entirety of Sesvete (75,076)
* almost all of the neighborhood of Donja Dubrava (41,908) excluding LC Trnava (9,593) and LC Resnički Gaj (420)

According to these statistics, 177,490 reside in Zagreb’s 2nd election district, together with the citizens of Bjelovarska and Koprivničko-križevačka counties, Vrbovec, etc.

Peščenica, Žitnjak, and a large swathe of Novi Zagreb are in the 6th election district – together with those from Velika Gorica and Sisačko-moslavačka county:

* the entirety of Peščenica-Žitnjak (65,693) excluding LC Peščenica (6,432) and LC Oton Župančić (1,761), which are also parts of the 1st election district
* only LC Kanal from Trnje (1,700)
* LC Trnava (9,593) and LC Resnički Gaj (420) from Donja Dubrava
* LC Zapruđe (7,155), LC Sopot (8,741), LC Utrine (9,166), LC Travno (11,681), LC Sloboština (6,099), LC Dugave 12,579) and LC Središće (3,971) Novi Zagreb-Istok
* only LC Siget (8,457) due to some element of fate, from the neighborhood Novi Zagreb-Zapad

We can see that nearly all of the new neighborhoods in Nov Zagreb belong to this election district.

When these figures are added together, the result is 137,062 inhabitants living in Zagreb’s 6th election district.

In the end, we get to "primorsko-goransko-karlovačko-samoborsko-jarunska", i.e. the 7th election unit! It is probably the most heterogeneous unit in all of Croatia; one can bathe in the Jarun Lake or the Adriatic Sea or ski on Platak. A very interesting part of Zagreb that can be named “south-west” makes up part of this unit:

* only LC Gajnice (10,315) and LC Stenjevec-Sjever (7,444) from the neighborhood Podsused-Vrapče
* almost all of Stenjevec (54,510), excluding LC Matija Gubec (4,148) and LC Vrapče-Jug (5,887), which – of course – belong in the 1st district
* almost all of Trešnjevka-Jug (74,153), excluding LC Horvati-Srednjaci (13,472) and LC Knežija (12,054), all of which can be found in the 1st district
* practically all of the neighborhoods in Novi Zagreb-Zapad (62,568) excluding LC Siget (8,457), which by another strange twist of fate ended up in the 6th district
* the rest of the neighborhoods in Novi Zagreb-Istok (62,568) which are not in the 6th district (59,392)
* all of Brezovica (12,506)

We can see that almost all of the new neighborhoods in the western part of Zagreb (Gajnice, Špansko, Prečko, Vrbani...) are in this district. It is worth mentioning that these are some of the largest neighborhoods in the western part of the city.

When these figures are compiled, the result is 180,654 inhabiting Zagreb’s 7th election district.
There are some neighborhoods in Zagreb – such as Gajnice – that are practically “islands” within their election districts. Look also at Novi Zagreb: Dugave is part of the 6th district, together with Sisak. If you drive further, you enter Buzin which is in the 7th district, together with Gajnice, Vrbani, Novi Vinodolski, and immediately after you arrive in Velika Gorica. Here, it goes without saying, you have just re-entered the 6th district.
I found out that I live in one election district, work in a different one, and drive to work through yet another one. All this time, I had no idea!
I hope that this is the last election that uses this complex and obfuscating arrangement of election districts and that the system will be changed in such a way as to define first the election districts that represent logical units; only afterwards shall they decide how many MPs each can vote for.