The Constitutional Court on Tuesday repealed the Constituencies Act, which expires on 1 October, until when Parliament is expected to ensure compliance with the constitutional guarantee of equal suffrage.
In a summary of its decision published after today’s session, the Constitutional Court said that the decision was based on the case law, specifically its principled positions made public in December 2010 and September 2015.
Stressing that since its first warning in 2010 Parliament has failed to fulfill its positive obligation to make legislative interventions in electoral legislation, the Constitutional Court said that “understanding and trust cannot be such to bring into question the basic right of universal and equal suffrage.”
The Constitutional Court has found that the identified differences in the number of voters among many constituencies, which are based on independent official sources and have persisted over a long period of time, raise doubts as to the democratic nature of entire elections given the evident departure from the substantive aspect of the guarantee of universal and equal suffrage under Article 45 of the Constitution.
Significant departure from principle of equal suffrage
Moreover, the extent of the departure indicates a great likelihood of direct influence on the final outcome of the election process should it be conducted in line with the existing law, the Court said.
In light of these facts, the Constitutional Court concluded that the current election system, based on ten constituencies, significantly departs from the principle of equal suffrage, primarily in its substantive aspect, which guarantees equal weight of every vote.
The Constitutional Court has been warning since 2010 about the need to change the legal provisions on parliamentary elections because some constituencies already then violated the rule under which the number of voters in each constituency must not depart from the average by more than 5%, but none of the Croatian parliaments have done anything in that regard.
In the meantime, two censuses were conducted, and the results of the last one, conducted in 2021, show that the differences in the number of voters have increased so much that they could bring into question the constitutionality of the next election.