How to vote in Croatia

Ban Jelačić square in Zagreb, Croatia
Ban Jelačić square in Zagreb, Croatia

UPDATED: 5.3.2024.

Since 1990, seven presidential elections, twelve parliamentary elections, eight nationwide local elections, and three elections to elect 11 members of the European Parliament have been held.

Every Croatian citizen with prebivalište (permanent address) or boravište (temporary address) in Croatia has the right to vote if they are older than 18. Croatian citizens currently present in Croatia and EU citizens with permanent residence in Croatia can also vote.

This post summarizes the crucial information you must know about Croatian elections and voting.

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

How to vote in Croatia as Croatian or a foreigner

Presidential elections in Croatia

The President of Croatia is elected for a five-year term by a direct vote of all Croatian citizens in a majority system. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of votes in the first round, runoff elections are required.

In Croatian, a female president is called predsjednica, and a male predsjednik.

Timing: every 5 years

Next election: 2024

Parliamentary elections in Croatia

Members of Parliament are elected for a four-year term, with additional members elected for the Croatian diaspora and national minorities. Out of 25 political parties that won seats in Croatian parliamentary elections held since 1990, only five have won ten seats or more in any one parliamentary election.

[Read: Croatia’s Largest Political Parties]

In Croatian, a prime minister or a president of the government is called premijerka or predsjednica Vlade if they are female and premijer or predsjednik Vlade if they are male. To learn more about the branches of Croatian government, visit this post. To learn about Croatian ministries, visit this post.

Timing: every 4 years

Next election: 2024

Local elections in Croatia

Croatia is divided into 20 županija (counties) and the capital City of Zagreb. The counties are further divided into 128 cities and 428 municipalities.

The county prefects, city/town mayors, and municipality presidents are elected for four-year terms by a majority of votes cast within applicable local government units. If no candidate achieves a majority in the first round of voting, a runoff election is necessary.

In Croatian, a country prefect is called županica (female) or župan (male), a city mayor is called gradonačelnica (female) or gradonačelnik (male), and a municipality president načelnica (female) or načelnik (male).

Timing: every 4 years

Next election: 2025

Who can be a candidate for office in Croatia?

Any Croatian citizen over the age of 18 may be a candidate in presidential, parliamentary, or local government elections, provided that a sufficient number of endorsements by Croatian voters is obtained beforehand, either by petition or political party sponsorship.

How and where to vote in Croatia

Voting takes place in polling stations in Croatia and abroad, monitored by an electoral board and observers at each station. Polling stations outside Croatia are usually placed in Croatian consulates. All votes are counted by hand. The State Electoral Commission publishes official results and handles complaints, supported by county, city, and town electoral commissions during local elections.

Elections are governed by the Državno izborno povjerenstvo (State Electoral Commission) and electoral boards. Members of those bodies must have a university degree in law and may not be members of any political party. The Commission prepares and manages elections in accordance with legislation, appoints lower-ranking election commission and board members, issues directives to such bodies, and supervises their work.

Polling stations are set up in public buildings throughout the country, and voters can only vote at their assigned polling station (according to their permanent residence). You can find your polling station by visiting the voting register here and filling in your OIB.

[Read: How to Get an OIB – Croatian Identification Number]

All voters are automatically placed on voting lists. All you have to do is bring your ID card to prove your identity. Learn how to apply for a Croatian ID card in this guide.

Croatians voting in Croatia

All adult Croatians living in Croatia can vote in Croatia as per their place of residence. The register of voters in Croatia is defined by law. The register lists all citizens of Croatia aged 18 and over, except those who have been stripped of their voting rights by a court decision. If the court determines you do not have the mental competency to vote, the court can strip your voting rights and assign a caregiver who can vote on your behalf.

If you want to apply for Croatian citizenship, view this guide. If you want to apply for a residence in Croatia, view all possible options here.

Croatians with residency in Croatia voting abroad

Voters deployed abroad in the armed forces, voters on Croatian-flagged ships, and imprisoned voters are allowed to vote elsewhere. Voters residing in Croatia but traveling abroad on election day may vote at Croatian diplomatic missions.

Voters who expect to travel in Croatia or abroad on election day may require inclusion in a provisional list that allows them to vote at a polling station other than that assigned to them by residence.

View our guides on Croatian addresses called prebivalište and boravište here.

Croatians without permanent residency in Croatia voting abroad

If you are Croatian living outside Croatia and do not have permanent residency in Croatia, to vote, you must request active registration in the diplomatic and consular representations of the Republic of Croatia abroad. You can view the application form here.

If you own an e-ID card, you do not have to register actively to vote in the election. You will be automatically registered according to your place of residence abroad. For every upcoming election, it will be the same place unless you change it.

If you want to change your location for voting abroad, you must request a change of the location of active registration. Submit the request to the other diplomatic and consular representation of the Republic of Croatia no later than 10 days before the election.

You can also submit the request to the competent administrative body according to the place where you will be on election day in the Republic of Croatia. View the application form here.

[Read: Available visas and residence permits for Croatia]

Voting in Croatia as an EU citizen

If you’re an EU citizen with permanent residence in Croatia, you must request to be added to the voting register at the competent administrative authority. You’ll need to bring a copy of your EU ID card, a notarized statement stating nationality, proof of residence in Croatia, and a statement that says you have the right to vote in your native country.

You have to submit your request at least 30 days before the elections. If you’re accepted to the register, you’ll stay there until you request to be taken off or until your residency expires.

[Read: How EU/EEA citizens can apply for long-term residency in Croatia]

View our other posts about voting in Croatia here


Sources:

EU citizens – vote in the Republic of Croatia
Voting abroad for Croatians
Croatian State Electoral Commission

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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