By John Pindar
While there has been attention given to the very close result between the HDZ and its allies and the SDP plus its allies, it may not have been noted that the Croatian Labourists – Labour Party took one seat of the allotted 12 in a situation where it was unlikely to win a seat with the actual percentage of the vote it obtained (5.77 percent).
To set the result in European election context, it took just 42,750 votes to obtain a member of the EP. This has been managed by few parties in very few countries in few European elections and the way the electoral system operated was helpful- with two particular pieces of luck. Of course, it was a low turnout election also.
Croatia uses the D’Hondt system, a proportional representation method which allocates seats by repeated mathematical division. In theory there is a five percent hurdle but it was not relevant in the allocation of just 12 seats. The first two seats went to the HDZ and SDP. Dividing their votes by two means the third and fourth seats go to the HDZ and SDP, in that order. And so on. But tenth seat allocated went to the Croatian Labourists, so the eleventh went to the SDP and the last one to the HDZ.
Piece of luck number one was taking more than a one-sixth share of the vote of either the HDZ or the SDP (whichever). This was achieved, but only just. This meant that whichever party came second nationally would lose its sixth Euro seat to the Labour party.
Piece of luck number two: a large number of unsuccessful parties taking either very small or indeed minuscule shares of the vote. If one adds up the votes of the parties which came third through to 28th, they took more votes than the HDZ. So many of the votes were drained away by these non-winning parties that the electoral threshold was lowered enough for the Croatian Labourists to win a seat. If the SDP had taken 34.5 percent of the vote, rather than 32.1 percent, they would have seen off the Croatian Labourists.
John Pindar is a researcher and writer on Central/Eastern/South Eastern Europe and the Baltic States