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Cablegate: Once Again, No Double Vote for Minorities In

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ZAGREB 002365

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR EUR/SCE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM HR
SUBJECT: ONCE AGAIN, NO DOUBLE VOTE FOR MINORITIES IN
CROATIA

1. THE CROATIAN PARLIAMENT VOTED LAST MONTH TO DENY A DOUBLE
VOTE TO ETHNIC MINORITY VOTERS IN THE NATIONAL ELECTIONS SET
FOR NOVEMBER 23. THE "DOUBLE VOTE" WOULD HAVE PERMITTED
OFFICIALLY-DESIGNATED MINORITIES TO VOTE TWICE ON ELECTION
DAY, ONCE FOR GENERAL PARTY LISTS, AND ONCE FOR AN ETHNIC
REPRESENTATIVE. THE ISSUE WAS BROUGHT TO THE PARLIAMENT'S
COMMITTEE ON LEGISLATION, WHICH DETERMINED THAT THE
CONSTITUTION, THE CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ON NATIONAL MINORITIES,
AND THE ELECTORAL LAW ALL CLEARLY DEFINE THAT MINORITY
MEMBERS DO NOT HAVE DOUBLE VOTING RIGHTS. SEVENTY-ONE MPS
VOTED IN SUPPORT OF THE COMMITTEE, 33 OPPOSED, AND FOUR
ABSTAINED. THOSE IN FAVOR OF DENYING THE DOUBLE VOTE TO
ETHNIC MINORITIES INCLUDED A CROSS SECTION OF BOTH THE RULING
COALITION AND OPPOSITION PARTIES.

2. MILORAD PUPOVAC, CHAIR OF THE SERB NATIONAL COUNCIL (SNV),
AND CANDIDATE OF THE INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATIC SERB PARTY
(SDSS), COMPLAINED ABOUT THE DECISION AND TOLD US HE PLANNED
TO APPEAL IT ONCE AGAIN TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. PUPOVAC
AND FURIO RABIN, CROATIA'S LEADING ETHNIC ITALIAN MP, HAVE
BEEN THE LEADING ADVOCATES PUSHING FOR A DECISION IN SUPPORT
OF DOUBLE VOTING RIGHTS FOR MINORITIES.

3. DOUBLE VOTING WOULD HAVE ENSURED PUPOVAC'S ELECTION AS AN
ETHNIC SERB REPRESENTATIVE TO PARLIAMENT. IN THE PREVIOUS
ELECTION HE LOST THE RACE FOR THE ONLY ETHNIC SERB SEAT BY
APPROXIMATELY 2,000 VOTES TO MILAN DJUKIC, WHO WON BECAUSE UP
TO 80 PERCENT OF ALL ETHNIC VOTERS CHOSE TO VOTE ON THE PARTY
LISTS -- LEAVING ONLY THE SO-CALLED "HARD LINERS" MORE IN
SYNC WITH DJUKIC'S CONFRONTATIONAL POLITICS TO VOTE ON THE
ETHNIC LIST. DOUBLE VOTING WOULD HAVE ALSO OPENED THE WAY
FOR PUPOVAC TO SPEND MORE TIME ENCOURAGING MINORITY VOTERS TO
SUPPORT THE RULING CENTER-LEFT COALITION -- IN EFFECT
ENSURING A FUTURE POLITICAL PAYOFF FOR "DELIVERING" THE SERB
VOTE TO RACAN.

4. IN THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE, MILAN DJUKIC, THE SOLE MP
ELECTED IN 2000 TO REPRESENT ETHNIC SERBS IN THE SABOR,
OPPOSED THE DOUBLE VOTE FOR ETHNIC MINORITIES. DJUKIC'S
POSITION IS PARTLY PRAGMATIC -- IT WOULD NEVER PASS
PARLIAMENT -- BUT MOSTLY PERSONAL. THE REALITY OF ONE-MAN
ONE-VOTE IS THAT THE MAJORITY OF ETHNIC SERB VOTERS HAVE AND
WILL VOTE FOR THE SDP AND OTHER NATIONAL PARTIES OF THE
CENTER-LEFT. IF PROVIDED WITH A SECOND "ETHNIC" VOTE, MANY
OF THOSE VOTERS, SOCIAL DEMOCRATS BY INCLINATION, WOULD MORE
LIKELY CAST THEIR ADDITIONAL VOTE FOR PUPOVAC OR OTHER
"MODERATE" CENTER-LEFT ETHNIC SERBS CANDIDATES. HENCE,
DJUKIC IS CONTENT TO HAVE ONLY A SMALL PORTION OF ETHNIC
SERBS VOTE ON THE ETHNIC SERB LIST BECAUSE THOSE WHO VOTE
TEND TO BE MORE "HARD-LINE" NATIONALISTS. TO SOLIDIFY HIS
SUPPORT AMONG SUCH VOTERS, DJUKIC IN RECENT MONTHS HAS RAMPED
UP THE RHETORIC OF VICTIMIZATION OF SERBS AND CRITICISM OF
THE GOVERNMENT.

COMMENT
-------

5. NOVEMBER 5 MARKS THE OFFICIAL BEGINNING OF CROATIA'S
ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND THE ISSUE OF DOUBLE VOTING FOR
MINORITIES IS NOW RESOLVED, AT LEAST FOR THIS CYCLE. BUT
PUPOVAC PROBABLY NEED NOT WORRY SO MUCH: ONE OF THE
ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE RACAN GOVERNMENT WAS TO CHANGE THE
ELECTION LAW TO EXPAND THE NUMBER OF GUARANTEED SEATS IN
PARLIAMENT FOR MINORITIES TO EIGHT, INCLUDING THREE FOR
CROATIA'S SERBIAN COMMUNITY. THIS TIME AROUND MOST OBSERVERS
THINK THERE IS ROOM FOR DJUKIC AND PUPOVAC -- AND BOTH ARE
CAMPAIGNING HARD. WE SAW PUPOVAC ON THE STUMP RECENTLY IN
KNIN, PUTTING ALL HIS BEST ORATORY SKILLS -- HE IS A
PROFESSOR OF RHETORIC AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ZAGREB -- TO THE
TEST. WHILE SOME PROPONENTS DECRY THE DENIAL OF THE DOUBLE
VOTE AS A LOSS OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR MINORITY RIGHTS,
THESE CONCERNS ARE PROBABLY OVER-WROUGHT.

6. BY AFFIRMING ONE-MAN, ONE-VOTE, NATIONAL POLITICAL PARTIES
WILL HAVE MORE INCENTIVE TO BROADEN THEIR APPEAL TO ALL
VOTERS REGARDLESS OF ETHNICITY, PROMOTING GREATER POLITICAL
INCLUSIVENESS, ETHNIC TOLERANCE, RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS --
AND THEY WILL HAVE MORE REASON TO FOCUS ON POCKET BOOK ISSUES.
FRANK

NNNN

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