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Politics of Croatia

Government Croatian politics will be dominated by the legislative elections that will occur at the end of this year. The ruling party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), has experienced a drop in its popularity, as evidenced by recent election polls. This has prompted President Franjo Tudjman to revive national issues. A period of political uncertainty may ensue as a result of HDZ's struggle to hold onto power. They have begun to tighten their reigns on the media and sow division among the opposition. Foreign relations could suffer as the HDZ targets the West in an attempt to reawaken nationalist feelings. This may be especially evident as the U.S. continues to put pressure on Croatia to accelerate the return of Serb refugees.

The paragraph above is out of date. Tudjman is dead, replaced by Stjepan Mesic[?]

The President of the Republic of Croatia is the head of state and is elected by popular vote for a 5-year term. A president may not serve more than two terms. The presidency is strong, with an extensive veto. He also may issue decrees with the force of law. He appoints the prime minister and the cabinet, a council of ministers that is proposed by the prime minister. The president is the commander in chief of the armed forces. The next presidential election will be held February 7, 2000.

The Croatian legislature is the Sabor (Parliament), a bicameral body consisting of a Chamber of Deputies and a Chamber of Zupanije (counties). The Chamber of Deputies can have between 100 and 160 deputies, and the Chamber of Counties has 63 members (3 from each county). All representatives are elected for 4-year terms. The last parliamentary elections were held January 3, 2000. The Chambers meet in public sessions twice a year -- January 15 to June 30 and September 15 to December 15. 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 Supreme Court 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 life. The High Judiciary Council of the Republic appoints judges. It is a body consisting of a president and 14 members proposed by the Chamber of Counties and elected by the Chamber of Deputies for 8-year terms.

The Constitutional Court 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 11 judges proposed by the Chamber of Counties and elected by the Chamber of Deputies for 8-year terms. The president of the Constitutional Court is elected by the court for a 4-year term.

The country is composed of 21 counties (zupanijas). Three representatives from each county are elected to the Chamber of Zupanije.

Croatia's military consists of five branches: ground forces, naval forces, air and air defense forces, frontier guard, and home guard. Total active duty members of the armed forces number 56,180, including about 33,500 conscripts. Terms of service are 10 months. Reserves number 220,000. The Croatian military budget was approximately $1.1 billion in 1997 (a little more than 5% of GDP).

Principal Government Officials
President Franjo Tudjman died December 10, 1999. A new government will be elected and installed by mid-february 2000.
Prime Minister--Zlatko Matesa
Foreign Minister--Mate Granic
Ambassador to the United States--Miomir Zuzul
Ambassador to the United Nations--Ivan Simonovic

The U.S. embassy is located at 2343 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008; Tel: 202-588-5899; Fax: 202-588-8936. Consulates are located in Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Croatia
conventional short form: Croatia
local long form: Republika Hrvatska
local short form: Hrvatska

Data code: HR

Government type: presidential/parliamentary democracy

Capital: Zagreb

Administrative divisions: 20 counties (zupanije, zupanija - singular), 1 city (grad -singular)*: Bjelovarsko-Bilogorska Zupanija, Brodsko-Posavska Zupanija, Dubrovacko-Neretvanska Zupanija, Istarska Zupanija, Karlovacka Zupanija, Koprivnicko-Krizevacka Zupanija, Krapinsko-Zagorska Zupanija, Licko-Senjska Zupanija, Medimurska Zupanija, Osjecko-Baranjska Zupanija, Pozesko-Slavonska Zupanija, Primorsko-Goranska Zupanija, Sibensko-Kninska Zupanija, Sisacko-Moslavacka Zupanija, Splitsko-Dalmatinska Zupanija, Varazdinska Zupanija, Viroviticko-Podravska Zupanija, Vukovarsko-Srijemska Zupanija, Zadarska Zupanija, Zagreb*, Zagrebacka Zupanija

Independence: 25 June 1991 (from Yugoslavia)

National holiday: Statehood Day, 30 May (1990)

Constitution: adopted on 22 December 1990

Legal system: based on civil law system

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Stjepan (Stipe) Mesic[?] (since 18 February 2000)
head of government: Prime Minister Ivica Racan[?] (since 27 January 2000); Deputy Prime Ministers Goran Granic (since NA February 2000), Zeljka Antunovic (since NA February 2000), Slavko Linic (since NA February 2000)
cabinet: Council of Ministers named by the prime minister and approved by the president and the House of Representatives
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 7 February 2000 (next to be held NA 2005); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Stjepan Mesic elected president; percent of vote - Stjepan Mesic (HNS) 56%, Drazen Budisa (HSLS) 44%
note: government coalition - SDP, HSLS, HSS, LP, HNS, IDS

Legislative branch: bicameral Assembly or Sabor consists of the House of Counties or Zupanijski Dom (68 seats - 63 directly elected by popular vote, 5 appointed by the president; members serve four-year terms) and House of Representatives or the Zastupnicki Dom (151 seats, members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: House of Counties - last held 13 April 1997 (next to be held NA 2001); House of Representatives - last held 2-3 January 2000 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: House of Counties - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - HDZ 42, HDZ/HSS 11, HSS 2, IDS 2, SDP/PGS/HNS 2, SDP/HNS 2, HSLS/HSS/HNS 1, HSLS 1; note - in some districts certain parties ran as coalitions, while in others they ran alone; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - HDZ 46, SDP 44, HSLS 24, HSS 17, HSP/HKDU 5, IDS 4, HNS 2, independents 4, others 5

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges appointed for eight-year terms by the Judicial Council of the Republic, which is elected by the House of Representatives; Constitutional Court, judges appointed for eight-year terms by the Judicial Council of the Republic, which is elected by the House of Representatives

Political parties and leaders: Action of the Social Democrats of Croatia or ASH [Silvije Degen]; Alliance of Croatian Coast and Mountains Department or PGS [Luciano Susanj]; Croatian Christian Democratic Union or HKDU [Marko Veselica, president]; Croatian Democratic Independents or HND [Josip Manolic, president]; Croatian Democratic Union or HDZ [Ivo Sanader, president]; Croatian Party of Rights or HSP [Anto Djapic]; Croatian Party of Rights 1861 or HSP 1861 [Dobroslav Paraga]; Croatian Peasant Party or HSS [Zlatko Tomcic]; Croatian People's Party or HNS [Radimir Cacic, president]; Croatian Social Liberal Party or HSLS [Drazen Budisa, president]; Independent Democratic Serb Party or SDSS [Vojislav Stanimirovic]; Istrian Democratic Assembly or IDS [Ivan Jakovcic]; Liberal Party or LP [Ivo Banac, president]; Party of Democratic Action or SDA [Semso Tankovic]; Primorje Gorski Kotar Alliance [leader NA]; Serbian National Party or SNS [Milan Djukic]; Slanvonsko-Baranja Croatian Party or SBHS [Damir Juric]; Social Democratic Party of Croatia or SDP [Ivica Racan]
note: the Social Democratic Party or SDP and the Croatian Social Liberal Party or HSLS formed a coalition as did the HSS, HNS, LP, and IDS, which together defeated the Croatian Democratic Union or HDZ in the 2000 lower house parliamentary election

Political pressure groups and leaders: NA

International organization participation: BIS, CCC, CE, CEI[?], EBRD, ECE, FAO, IADB[?], IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (observer), OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

Flag description: red, white, and blue horizontal bands with Croatian coat of arms (red and white checkered)

See also : Croatia



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