24 abril, 2013
Written By Sean Farrell, Joe Wood, Saskia Schink, Sergio Serrano Perez and Roman Koshivka.
Only one fifth of the citizens able to vote on the election of twelve representatives to European Parliament actually did so. According to the latest results the opposition party has got most of votes. That leads to the question, what is the nation’s real attitude towards European Union Membership?
The population of Croatia stands at around 4.4 million, which means fewer than one million, gave their votes during this election. The topic of joining EU is considered as very important by both European Parliament and by the government of Croatia. Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic stated that the election has a historical significance and that joining the European Community will serve as the base for making big social and economic reforms. However, the citizens are not as convinced about membership as could be expected as shown by the fact that only 20.8% of voters cast their vote.
One of the possible factors of such a low turnout at the voting stations is that the election campaign only lasted for three weeks and was very soft, most of the citizens were not exposed enough to it to be influenced by it (EU Observer). Another possible reason is that that the selected representatives are only going to be working at the European Parliament for one year, as the reelection is set to be held in each of the EU member states in 2014. “I hope that the impending accession of Croatia to the EU and the work of the country’s newly elected representatives will increase voters’ participation in next years’ elections” said Hannes Swoboda, Chairman of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. Additionally, he congratulated the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which has the largest number of voters and is now considered as the opposition party in Croatia.
The most important factor is that people do not see joining the European Union as a significant and necessary step for improving the situation in the country. The BBC’s journalist Guy De Lancey said that “the topic of EU entry was a matter of national pride to Croatians in previous years, but now they start understand that it does not automatically mean that the situation in the state will rapidly change”. As an example he refers to Slovenia which joined the European Union nine years ago. The unemployment rate is continuing to grow and Croatia is still facing economic problems that arose during the crisis in 2009. Such matters take primary importance for the citizens as opposed to more and more election, from which they are tired in general, after holding a referendum about joining the European Union only one year ago. Talking about the low numbers, the SDP’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said in the local Jutarnji List daily that “We will have to reflect why people are deaf to these choices.” One local citizen Dubravka Simac told AFP news “I back EU entry … but our incapable politicians are not worth my effort of going to a polling station,”
In 2012, 66% of citizens voted in favour of joining the EU. Croatia is going to enter the EU and become the 28th member state on 1st July 2013 and the second country from the former Yugoslavia after Slovenia in 2004.
Despite Croatia’s imminent admission to the EU, it seems certain, that the people are uncertain, as to whether this is the road to stability.