Croatia is a multi-party parliamentary Republic. State powers are divided into three branches: legislative (Parliament) executive (President and government) and judicial (courts). The legal system is based on civil law system. The Republic of Croatia is administratively divided into 20 counties (zupanije) and one city (grad).
The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia was adopted on 22 December 1990. Amendments were made in March 2001 regarding the Parliament structure, when one of the two parliamentary chambers (the Chamber of Counties) was abolished in 2001.
The first multi-party elections since World War II were held in Croatia in 1990. The Croatian nationalist Franco Tudjman was elected President. In 1991 Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia.
The death of President Tudjman in December 1999 followed by parliamentary and presidential elections in early 2000 resulted in significant political changes in Croatia. The power of presidency were diminished and Parliament was empowered with greater responsibility. The new government, headed by Prime Minister Ivica Racan, has progressed in implementation of the Dayton Peace Accord regarding refugee return, regional co-operation, national reconciliation and democratic reforms. The new government has also ameliorated the relations with neighbouring countries as well as with the international community, which were strained under Tudjman’s presidency.
The President is the head of state and is elected by direct popular vote for a term of five years, with a maximum of two successive terms. Additionally, the President serves as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, represents the Republic of Croatia and appoints the Prime Minister and Cabinet members with the prior consent of Parliament.
The head of government is the Prime Minister who is responsible to Parliament and appoints the Cabinet. The Prime Minister, who is nominated by the President, assumes office following a parliamentary vote of confidence in the government.
The government exercises executive power. The government assumes office following a vote of confidence with the majority of all members of Parliament.
The government may propose legislation and other acts to the Parliament, propose the state budget, execute laws and other decisions of the Parliament, enact decrees to implement the laws, guide the foreign and internal policies, direct and control the operation of the state administration.
The Croatian Parliament (Sabor) is the representative body of the people and holds the legislative power in the Republic. The Parliament became a unicameral body since its Upper House (Chamber of Counties) was abolished by constitutional amendment in March 2001. The remaining body, the Chamber of Representatives, consists of 151 members, who serve a four-year term elected by direct vote. The Sabor meets twice a year-from January 15 to July 15 and from September 15 to December 15.
The powers of the Parliament include enactment and amendment of the Constitution, passage of laws, adoption of the state budget, declarations of war and peace, alteration of the boundaries of the Republic, supervision of the government, conducting elections and appointments to office.
Each representative of the Parliament, parliamentary groups and working bodies, and the government have the right to propose laws.
The Parliament makes decisions by a majority vote, provided that a majority of representatives are present, unless otherwise specified by the Constitution. Laws, which regulate the rights of national minorities, are passed with a two-thirds majority vote of all members of Parliament. Laws, which elaborate the constitutionally defined human rights and fundamental freedoms, the electoral system, the organization, authority and operation of government bodies and the organization and authority of local and regional self-government are passed with a majority vote of all members of Parliament.
The President promulgates laws within eight days from the date when they were passed in the Parliament. However, if the President considers the draft law not to be in accordance with the Constitution, she/he may initiate proceedings to review the constitutionality of the law before the Constitutional Court.
The President, the government or at least one-fifth of the members of the Parliament may propose amendments to the Constitution. The decision to commence the proceedings for the amendment is taken by the Parliament with a majority vote of all members. Draft amendments are determined by a majority vote of all the members of the Parliament. The decision to amend the Constitution is made by a two-thirds majority vote of all the members of the Parliament. The Parliament promulgates the amendment.
Courts exercise judicial power. Croatia has a three-tiered judicial system, consisting of the Supreme Court, county courts, and municipal courts. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, as the highest court of justice, ensures uniform implementation of laws and equality of citizens.
The Judicial Council of the Republic, which is elected by the House of Representatives, appoints the judges of Supreme Court and Constitutional Court for eight-year terms.
The Constitutional Court consists of thirteen judges. The Constitutional Court has the jurisdiction over issues regarding: the conformity of laws with the Constitution, conformity of other regulations with the Constitution and laws, jurisdictional disputes between the legislative, executive and judicial branches, supervision of the constitutionality and legality of elections and national referenda, electoral disputes which are not within the jurisdiction of courts.
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Joint Opinion with Venice Commission on the Draft Law on Voters Lists of CroatiaDate : 16 July 2007 English [0.17 MB]
Joint Opinion with the Venice Commission on the Draft Law on the State Election Commission of the Republic of CroatiaDate : 23 March 2006 English [0.18 MB]
Commentaries on the Draft Law on the Croatian State Election CommissionDate : 05 December 2005 English [0.13 MB]