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Cablegate: Croatia Adopts Legislation On Direct Election of Mayors And

VZCZCXRO2923
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0953 2911142
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181142Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8242
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000953

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/SCE, EUR/RPM, EUR/PPD and DRL/AE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV HR POLITICAL PARTIES
SUBJECT: CROATIA ADOPTS LEGISLATION ON DIRECT ELECTION OF MAYORS AND
COUNTY PREFECTS

1. On October 5, just one week before adjourning for the upcoming
legislative elections, the Croatian Parliament (Sabor) passed a
package of legislation providing for direct election of mayors,
county prefects, and their deputies. Until now, these officials
have been chosen by the members of the local councils or assemblies.
The new law will apply at the next round of local elections,
ordinarily due in the spring of 2009. The new law stipulates the
winning candidate should obtain at least 50% of the vote to be
elected in the first round. If not, the top two candidates compete
in a runoff election within two weeks. Candidates are required to
collect voters' signatures for their nominations, ranging from 50 in
small municipalities to 5,000 in the city of Zagreb. The law
obligates candidates to declare the amounts and sources of their
campaign funding, and bans contributions from public institutions,
state-owned companies and foreign entities.

2. In an attempt to reinforce the separation of powers between the
executive and legislative branches at the local level, the Sabor has
also amended the Law on Local and Regional Self-Government. Local
councils and assemblies, which are also directly elected, will now
be allowed to call a referendum to recall a mayor/county prefect
should the latter break the law. Such referenda would be valid only
if voter turnout exceeded 33.3 percent. Similarly, petitions signed
by 33.3 percent of registered voters can force a recall referendum.
In a final reform adopted on October 5, municipalities and counties
in which ethnic minorities constitute more than 15 percent of the
population will be required to name a deputy mayor from among its
minority councilors/assemblymen.

3. COMMENT: Adoption of this law has been one of the democratization
reforms actively sought by the U.S., both in the context of
Croatia's NATO candidacy, and in our broader efforts to promote
reforms. Over the past three years, USAID/Croatia has actively
supported the development and enactment of this legislation,
organizing roundtables and conferences in support of the
legislation, as well as lobbying behind the scenes for its passage.
Croatia's Association of Cities, representing the country's
municipal governments, will now press for effective implementation
of the new laws. END COMMENT.

BRADTKE

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