To get used to the language, I watch Croatian TV every now and then, and, also every now and then, I understand some things that are being said.
I've already seen two broadcasts from the Croatian Parliament (Hrvatski sabor), and, boring as it may be, I've still caught a few interesting things.
During today's session, for example, they were voting for something, and I really liked their procedure: the speaker (or his deputy or whatever) stood by the microphone, calling each MP's name - and each MP present then responded with a loud "za" or "protiv" (for/against). There was no sound from those who were absent, obviously - though when ex-PM Ivo Sanader's name was called, there was a cheerful, noisy reaction from some MPs (Sanader has been in an Austrian prison on corruption charges since Dec. 2010). After the vote was completed, the speaker read the names of those absent once again, to make sure they were actually not there. And then they counted the votes.
Such a lo-tech, uncool procedure, right? But so much more efficient than the relatively hi-tech one that we have in Ukraine, which allows our assholes to cheat like crazy (see this GV text by Tetyana Bohdanova on one really embarrassing episode of cheating, witnessed by a Polish delegation - and the video of it is below).
UPDATE: A local friend has just explained to me that this lo-tech voting system is normally used in special cases, while the routine voting is done electronically, just like everywhere else.
Yesterday's vote for changes in the war veterans' rights legislation failed - they needed 102 votes in favor of it, but only 101 MPs were present - and there was no space for them to cheat in, even if they wanted to. (An item about it in English is here, with a mention of the laughing caused by Ivo Sanader's name being called.)
Meanwhile in Ukraine, they've passed the pension reform, and the voting was done the usual, backasswards, way, of course. Here's what LEvko of Foreign Notes wrote about it:
Today, [Friday] laws on pension reforms which will directly affect the lives of every Ukrainian citizen, were passed in parliament. Now every Ukrainian will have to work several years longer before achieving retirement.
248 deputies voted in support of the motion even though it seems only 143 deputies were actually registered to vote in the parliament building.
Multiple voting by deputies is a blantant contravention of the country's Constitution, but takes place with numbing regularity. [...]
LEvko also wrote about Yanukovych's reaction to being told that his son had been caught voting for other MPs:
[...] Also today, President Yanukovych, who is 'Guarantor of the Constitution', was asked at a press conference why his younger, parliamentary deputy son, Viktor, had voted in the past in parliament for other deputies in their absence, thus contravening to the Constitution.
His reply? - "When children are picked on - this is something else. I assure you I am not ashamed of my children, my family....When children are dragged into this dirt into which you are trying to drag my children, my family. You could pick on my grandchildren, the oldest is 11 years old - come on, let's go after them too." [...]
Here's the video of Yanukovych's son doing the multiple voting thing: