Sunday, January 02, 2005

[ELECTION 2005] "Civic Duty" Done

I went to the polling station today and did what many people in Croatia call "civic duty".

I always had problems with people calling that "civic duty". Right to vote is a right, not a duty. Just as people have the right to express their will at the ballot, they have a right to express their will by staying at home. And in this particular election, they have a good reason to do so.

I decided to vote for whole variety of reasons. The most obvious one was my desire to see this process end in the first round and thus have my fellow taxpayers spared from additional cost.

However, judging by the first turnout numbers, it seems that many people decided to stay at home. Central Electoral Commission reports that, based on data from 84% of polling stations, only about 14.72 % registered voters exercised their right in first four hours of the vote. Compared with 22% at the 2000 presidential elections, this is a significant drop. Medjimurje County leads with around 18 % turnout, while the worst is Koprivnica-Križevci (Koprivnica-Krizevci) County with only 9 %.

Low turnout might look a bad news for current president Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic), but so far the comforting number comes from Zagreb where the turnout of 16 % is higher than average. Mesić always had better poll numbers in northern and more urban parts of Croatia.


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