The process of passing a new law in Croatia is called “zakonodavni postupak” (legislative procedure) as well as “postupak donošenja zakona” (process of bringing a law). Passing new laws is the responsibility of the Croatian parliament, known as “Sabor”.
The Sabor can pass a variety of measures, including:
- Ustav (a constitution)
- Ustavni zakon (constitutional law)
- Zakone (laws)
- Državni proračun (state budget)
Passing a law is a detailed process, which must pass through several stages before it can be made into law.
Laws starts with a “suggestion”
The process for creating a new law or amending an existing law in Croatia starts with a written suggestion, called a “prijedlog zakona”.
People who can suggest a new law are:
- Parliament representatives
- Parliament political group
- Parliament working bodies
The suggested change to law must contain solutions in the form of legal directives. These solutions can represent alternatives to existing practice or brand new solutions to problems or topics not yet addressed. All the proposed solutions must contain detailed explanations.
Once formulated, the suggestion is submitted to the predsjednik Sabora (president of the parliament).
What does the “suggestion” look like?
The prijedlog zakona must contain:
- Constitutional basis for the law
- Basic question that must be regulated by the law
- Consequences of the law
- Resources for the law
- Detailed explanation of the proposed law change
- Related regulations of the existing law (if the law already exists)
In addition, the initiator may also provide:
- Expert opinions
- International contracts
- Report on conducted consultations with the public
Consideration of the law
The next step is for the suggestion to be considered by committees within the Sabor. The two committees that take control of the suggestion first are “predsjednik matičnog radnog tijela” (president of the mother working body) and “predsjednik Odbora za zakonodavstvo” (president of the committee on legislation).
There may be additional committees involved depending on which topics are covered in the proposed law.
These committees are required to add the suggestion of the law to their daily agenda and conduct a discussion. It can be denied later during the first vote, but the suggestion must be heard. Discussion cannot be silenced for purely political reasons.
The committees (also referred to as “working bodies”) state their opinion on the elements included in the suggestion. The committee on legislation then states its opinion about the constitutional basis for the law.
After considering the suggestion, the committee prepares and delivers a report to the Sabor. The report contains the opinion, point of views, remarks, and suggestions established in the earlier discussion.
Matično radno tijelo (mother working body) examines this report, compiles its own report and gives it to the Sabor. After they prepare the report, a representative is selected who is responsible for presenting the opinion, point of views, and suggestions about the law during a session of the parliament. This person represents the committees outside of Sabor.
The president of the parliament submits all the reports of the included committees to the promoter of the law and representatives. This second representative, referred to as the “promoter”, represents the committees within Sabor.
First reading of the law
The first reading of the law is conducted during a session of parliament. Representatives of the Sabor are given the opportunity to argue all aspects of the new law.
After the discussion, a vote is called of the members. Members vote by raising their hands. If the measure gains a simple majority, it will proceed in the process. If it fails to reach a majority, then the suggestion will be rejected.
If a member of Sabor wants to revisit the suggestion, it can be added back to the agenda for discussion three months after the initial rejection. If the law is accepted, the report is forwarded to the promoter. After that, the final suggestion of the law is made.
Final suggestion of the law
Next, the final version of the prijedlog zakona is drafted. This version must include:
- Reasons for passing the law
- Questions that will be answered by passing the law
- Explanation of directives of the law
- Financial plan for implementation
All parts and amendments that make up the suggested law must be analyzed part by part by members of the Sabor. After analysis, a vote is called in parliament. Members vote by raising their hands. The law will pass with a simple majority.
Second reading of the law
Once the final version of the law is ready, there is a second reading during a session of parliament. At this time, all parts of the law are analyzed step by step again. After this, the discussion is closed and the Sabor finalizes the decision on passing the new law.
The president of the Sabor signs the new law and all supporting documents. Then the law and documents are sent to the Croatian President who passes the law. The law is published and announced in the state newspaper Narodne Novine and it is also recorded on zakon.hr where all the laws are published.
Third reading of the law
The third reading is considered optional. It is usually only necessary when the law includes a large number of amendments or when amendments change most of the content of the final law.
And that’s how an idea becomes a law in Croatia. ☺