• Website offering billboards at half-price for the EU elections (Photo: www.oglasime.hr)

Post EU Elections

No money for billboards in Croatia's EU election

15.05.14 @ 09:27

  1. By Hrvoje Appelt

Zagreb - Much of the EU landscape is dotted with election posters as next week's vote approaches, but Croatia is an exception.

In the EU's newest member state, the political parties are generally too under-funded to pay for billboards, let alone flashier campaigns.

Alongside the conspicuous lack of posters – one company offered them at cut price throughout April for the EU campaign, but to no avail – there have not yet been any radio or TV spots for the EU vote either.

The frugality is down to several reasons.

Under Croatian law, political parties cannot spend more than €200,000 on the EU election.

Even this modest sum is only an option for the centre-right HDZ and the centre-left SDP. Other parties are newcomers, set up between one and three years ago, meaning they have not built up an election war-chest.

In addition, the very public downfall of former prime minister Ivo Sanader – sentenced to nine years in prison for siphoning money from public companies to the HDZ party – has made parties very careful about their finances.

HDZ says it will get its money from state funding, donations and membership fees. But other parties need to be more creative and proactive.

This means that MEP-hopefuls are for the most part relying on a combination of old fashioned personal appearances and social media to win votes.

Walnut, a green party that jumped into the political scene only recently but is polling in third place, plans to spend just €3,000 on its campaign.

The party says politics is about "people and ideas, not billboard and radio commercials".

Meanwhile, the left-of-centre National Forum, polling around 4 percent, plans to spend between €47,000 and €66,000.

The State Election Commission has estimated that the 25 May vote will cost €8.4 million in total.

Any party that receives more than 5 percent of the votes is entitled to around €7,000 from the state budget, and one EP seat will bring about €33,000 to a party's coffers.