Croatians voted yesterday (14 April) for 12 members of the European Parliament. The low turnout of 20.74% is explained by voters' perception that the election was "unimportant", analysts said.
The opposition centre-right HDZ party won six MEP seats with 33.1% of the votes. The ruling Social Democrats (SDP) came in second, with 31.5% of the votes which would allow them to have five seats. The Labour Party obtained 5.7% and will have one seat.
The elected MEPs will take their seats as of 1 July when the country is expected to join the EU. For the time being Croatia is represented in the European Parliament by non-voting observers.
Despite the low turnout, officials called the vote "historic" and a key milestone on a path marked by years of difficult reforms. On the eve of the vote President Ivo Josipovi? had urged Croatians to cast ballots. "”It is extremely important not only on a symbolic level but since we enter the decision-making process in the EU,” he said.
Record remains unbeaten
The low turnout of Croatian European election vote is close to the record low turnout of 19.63% registered in the European elections in Slovakia in 2009. Lithuania registered the second lowest rate with 20.54%. The average turnout of the 2009 European elections in all 27 member countries was 43.24%.
When Croats voted in a referendum to approve the country’s EU accession treaty in January 2012, the turnout was also relatively low, at 43.7%. At that time, two-thirds of the Croats said ‘yes’ to the country’s EU membership.
Several analysts said that this time Croats didn’t see the election as important. Indeed, the elected MEPs will spend less than a year in office, as Croatia will vote together will all EU countries again in European elections in May 2014.
Zarko Puhovski, a political analyst, also blamed the lack of campaign. “Instead of an election campaign, we had weeks of virtual electoral silence,” Puhovski told the Associated Press.
According to some, the enthusiasm of Croatians for EU membership is dwindling as the exit from the eurozone crisis remains uncertain.
The most recent opinion polls show that only slightly more than 50% cent of Croatians are supporting their country's EU membership.