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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:

Table of contents
1 Judiciary branch
2 Legislative Branch
3 Executive branch
4 Regional government
5 History of political parties and events
6 See also

Judiciary branch

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 for eight year terms.

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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. The president of the Constitutional Court is elected by the court for a 4-year term.

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The State Judiciary Council (Državno Sudbeno Vijeće) of the Republic appoints judges of the Supreme Court. It is a body consisting of a president and 14 members proposed and elected by the Parliament for 8-year terms.

Legislative Branch

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 twice a year -- 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.

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The last parliamentary elections were held November 23 2003.

Last election results

Executive branch

The main executive power of Croatian state is the government ("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.

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Current government: Prime Minister: Ivo Sanader (since December 23 2003);
Deputy Prime Ministers: Jadranka Kosor, Andrija Hebrang (all since December 23, 2003)
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 and limited veto, but is still the commander in chief of the armed forces.

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Last election was held on 7 February 2000 (next to be held NA 2005)

Last election results: Stjepan (Stipe) Mesić elected president, instated February 18 2000;
See 2000 Presidential elections of Croatia

Regional government

The country is composed of 20 counties (županijas) and one city (grad, Zagreb). The counties and county centers are:

  1. Zagrebačka, Zagreb
  2. Krapinsko-zagorska, Krapina
  3. Sisačko-moslavačka, Sisak
  4. Karlovačka, Karlovac
  5. Varaždinska, Varaždin
  6. Koprivničko-križevačka, Koprivnica
  7. Bjelovarsko-bilogorska, Bjelovar
  8. Primorsko-goranska, Rijeka
  9. Ličko-senjska, Gospić
  10. Virovitičko-podravska, Virovitica
  11. Požeško-slavonska, Požega
  12. Brodsko-posavska, Slavonski Brod
  13. Zadarska, Zadar
  14. Osječko-baranjska, Osijek
  15. Šibensko-kninska, Šibenik
  16. Vukovarsko-srijemska, Vukovar
  17. Splitsko-dalmatinska, Split
  18. Istarska, Pazin
  19. Dubrovačko-neretvanska, Dubrovnik
  20. Međimurska, Čakovec
  21. Grad Zagreb

History of political parties and events

The Croatian Communist Party was the only party during socialist Yugoslavia. After the first multi-party elections, the right-wing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) came to power and remained until 2000.

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 left-center 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 legislave elections of 2003, when they narrowly lost the majority to HDZ and other right-center parties.

HDZ formed a government in December 2003, even though they haven't formed a major coalition with parties like HSS and HSP.

Some analysts expect foreign relations to suffer under HDZ, but the policy of the new government has yet to be seen in practice. The party itself, like most others in Croatia, pledges full cooperation with the European Union as part of the accession process.

The EU is expected to continue pressuring Croatia to accelerate the return of Serb refugees as the country fills out the economic conditions for accession to the Union.

See also