Guest Post by Fitch F. Rich, Croatian Blogger
The results of the referendum are clear – Croatia has chosen Europe! Two thirds of Croatian voters voted ‘YES’ in today’s referendum on country’s EU accession. Exactly 22 years after that historical day when Croatian delegation left the congress of the Yugoslav League of Communists in Sava Center Belgrade, Croatian people chose to enter yet another supranational association. The time will show whether this was a wise choice.
But what’s most concerning is a turnout of just around 44 percent! Although no one really expected it to be more than 80 percent like in 1990 when the referendum on independence was held, the polls have almost unanimously predicted something between 60 and 70 percent. 45 is pretty low for a crucial decision like this.
Nevertheless, today’s turnout did send a pretty significant message to Croatian political elite. The people are not happy with the way things were handled during the accession process and the government’s pro-EU campaign. They were not properly informed due to lack of any debate and the apathy is pretty visible in every corner of the country. 55 percent staying at home or walking in the sun instead of using their democratic right to vote in the referendum of big significance for their country is a fact that pretty much shows this nation’s state. Apathetic and indifferent, that’s what Croats look and feel like these days.
So, 29 percent of total voters in Croatia made this crucial decision on behalf of the whole country. Although everything is legal and those who stayed at home are first to blame, the legitimacy could indeed be questionable at the moment and that question has already been highlighted by the Eurosceptics. But the real question is whether we are mature enough as a society to accept these results and continue to work for our country in the new circumstances. I’m a little bit sceptic on this one.
The fact is that the majority of Croatian citizens don’t know much about the EU and they acted accordingly by showing the political classes that they don’t care about it also. Don’t know – don’t care, simple as that. And who can blame them? Communist totalitarian heritage still keeps many of them politically passive which is something politicians take advantage of rather than make them active and progressive.
So, the lesson of the day is that if you’d ask an average Croat whether he is pro or contra the EU, you’d probably hear the answer “I don’t care”.