Gong advocated its solution for fair and constitutional elections in parliament

10. November 2022.
Gong advocated its solution for fair and constitutional elections in parliament 1

At today's round table "The electoral system Croatia needs", organized by Most, Gong presented its model and advocated that Croatia be divided into six electoral constituencies, respecting the constitutional equality of the electoral law and electing a different number of mandates, and that the boundaries of the constituencies coincide with the borders.

"For us at Gong, this is a central issue because equality is the foundation of democracy - a political community in which all citizens are equal. And we approach this issue in a principled way, meaning we do not tie our solutions to potentially influencing the outcome of elections. The basis of parliamentarism is that all deputies are equal," said the executive director of Gong, Oriana Ivković Novokmet, in the introduction.

She stressed that Gong's model makes it possible to achieve the goal: "There would be electoral equality and the territorial criterion would be respected because the boundaries of the constituencies would follow the existing boundaries of the districts." Gong's units would be territorially logical, and the city of Zagreb would be in an electoral unit that would not be the largest, but the unit with the most mandates would be the one in which the Dalmatian districts, or Dalmatia, are located."

Gong's proposal would also improve the proportionality of elections - because we would have larger constituencies. "In addition, Gong's model does not provide for a new shift in boundaries in case of changes, which is a weakness of some other models. These are the main reasons why I consider Gong's proposal better than all other proposals," Ivković Novokmet said.

Berto Šalaj, professor at the Faculty of Political Science and president of the Gong Council, stressed that we live in an age of great uncertainty.

"We are waiting for the opinion of the Constitutional Court. The consultative hearing was held in June this year, but we still have no decision from the Constitutional Court. What will the Constitutional Court do - will it annul the law, or will it issue some other kind of warning? Only the decision of the Constitutional Court can encourage the engagement of the parliamentary majority, but we do not know what the parliamentary majority thinks. Back in January Mr. Bačić said that he would change the electoral law, and then the party leader said that the party was not seriously discussing this issue... So, we are waiting for HDZ to assess what is best for them, and then we will see how the opposition will be determined. It is good that through such debates we create awareness of the need for change," Šalaj said.

"We as a Gong continue to advocate for our six constituency solution. Our model is a big step forward compared to what we have today. We stand for the democratization of the political system, regardless of the fact that we are sometimes declared by some to represent certain interests," Šalaj added.

Professor from the Faculty of Political Science and Gong member Nenad Zakošek warned that ignoring the erosion of institutions is fatal for democracy.

Zakošek recalled the goals of the electoral system: representativeness, prevention of party fragmentation, simplicity, promotion of voter turnout, enabling the formation of a stable government, and legitimacy.

Šalaj explained five models that have recently been promoted in public as possible solutions:

  1. to remain in the existing constituencies, with only a certain number of mandates allocated according to the number of voters - this proposal seems to have led to disagreements in the ruling party.
  2. maintaining the 10 by 14 model, but redrawing the boundaries of the electoral units satisfies the condition of the Electoral Code, but does not address the problem or the warning of the Constitutional Court that the electoral units should follow the boundaries of the districts
  3. Gong's six constituency model, based on county boundaries and considering the city of Zagreb as one constituency; it has an unequal number of mandates per constituency
  1. model according to which each county would be an electoral district - such a system leads to enormous inequalities, as the city of Zagreb would have 28 mandates, while two or three deputies would be elected in Lika-Senj County. Then the natural electoral threshold also increases.
  2. The whole country as one electoral unit - this abandons what in political science is called rational proportionality. Pure proportional representation systems usually lead to a high degree of fragmentation. It has its merits, of course, proportionality is very high, but how do you then deal with stability and fragmentation?

Gong warned that citizen participation in elections had declined drastically, which is indeed a serious social problem. Likewise, Gong supported the opening of a broad social and political debate on electoral legislation, but we stressed the need to reach a consensus on the issue of constituencies.

Read the entire analysis 'Will the next parliamentary elections in Croatia be unconstitutional?' prepared for Gong by Goran Čular, professor at the Faculty of Political Science and member of Gong, HERE.

Gong advocated its solution for fair and constitutional elections in parliament 2
Gong advocated its solution for fair and constitutional elections in parliament 3

More from Gong's public advocacy:

Electoral units: Political consensus and will is necessary
Equality is not just a constitutional category, it is the foundation of a democratic society
Gong: Croatia has to be divided into 6 electoral units so that the next parliamentary elections can be in accordance with the Constitution
Gong on the reform of electoral and referendum legislature
New electoral legislature 2014
Gong's reccomendations for the improvement of elections and referendums