Consolidation of Power and Under-Representation of Small Parties in Sabor

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Originally written in Aug 2011

There is an apparent trend to consolidation of power into the hands of two political parties, the HDZ and the SDP. Croatia appears to be on the path to an American style Two-Party political system where the SDP are like Democrats and the HDZ the Republicans.

HDZ growth, in terms of market-share, appears to have stalled while SDP is
increasing. It could be said that the SDP is eating up the supporters of the small
parties. This assumption can be validated by looking at the "Before and After"
pictures for the 2000 and 2003 alliances/coalitions that the SDP entered into.

For example, look at the relative strength of the SDP and the HSLS before and
after the 2000 election. HSLS was strong, then entered into coalition with SDP
and in the next election the HSLS became a shadow of what it once used to be
while the SDP grew. Similarly look at the before and after pictures of the 2003
elections with regards to the Liberalna Stranka and the Liberalni Demokrati.

It appears that the "Left" in Croatia is consolidating (by will or coercion) into the
SDP (which is the equivalent of a Croatian Political Borg.) The Right on the other hand,
which is passionate to "do something to fix Croatia" is fragmenting around
many small parties which include FIVE flavors of HSP, JH, HSM, ND, SHZ and
independent candidates such as Tudman and Jurcevic.

In absolute number of votes, in the 2007 Sabor Election the Small Parties
received only HALF the votes they received in 2000!

Along with the drop in votes the number of seats in the Sabor dropped as well.

Adding insult to injury, there is a structural flaw in the way seats are
allocated in the Sabor which favors large parties and works against
small parties and coalitions of small parties. The HDZ and SDP receive
about 7 seats in the Sabor for every 100,000 votes while the smaller
parties receive just under 4 seats per 100,000 votes.

In 2007, the following is how seats were allocated:

HDZ received 36.60% of the vote but received 43.1% of the seats for a ratio of 1.18
HNS-LD received 6.80% of the vote but received 4.6% of the seats for a ratio of 0.68

Other countries in Europe appear not to have this "Big Party Bias" that
Croatia has. As an example, mature and fair democracies have a representation
ratio of close to ONE for their strong parties and their weak parties. Even Serbia
has a more fair representation model than does Croatia!

The result of these developments appears to be an unhealthy democracy
where the voters feel that their voices are not being heard and a subsequent
political pessimism and ennui develops. Participation in Croatian elections
is on a consistent downward trend which needs to be reversed!

1. Democracy in Croatia is unhealthy. The SDP is an organizational
juggernaut that is succeeding in its initiatives. Small parties are getting more
irrelevant with every election.

2. The fragmentation of the Right via creation of new parties on
the Right makes no sense whatsoever. There needs to be consolidation
on the Right to counter the threat on the Left.


Voter Turnout in Croatian Sabor Elections - PPT
Voter Turnout in Croatian Sabor Elections - PDF

Updated 5th-February-2014 at 11:27 PM by Željko Zidarić

Željko Zidarić