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Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR /ds

The election for Croatia's eighth parliament began with the opening of three of four polling stations in Australia at 9 pm on Friday Croatian time.

The polling stations were opened in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. The fourth, in Perth, was opened at midnight. At 11 pm on Friday Croatian time, a polling station was opened in Tokyo and at midnight one in Beijing. The last polling station abroad for Croatia's parliamentary election will be opened in Los Angeles.

Voting abroad can be done at 114 polling stations in Croatian diplomatic and consular offices in 48 countries. The highest number of polling stations is in Bosnia and Herzegovina (33), followed by Germany (18). In Europe, voting is taking place on Saturday and Sunday. The Croatian diaspora elects three members of parliament.

Polling stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) were opened on Saturday morning. One of the first to vote was Presidency Chairman Dragan Covic in Mostar.

"I expect a lot of Croatia as a key partner on the Euro-Atlantic path to make it easier for us to draw closer towards the EU and NATO. It can do a lot more so that we open our market towards the European Union because in a month we must solve the issue of traditional trade, which means opening BiH to the EU market," he told reporters.

Covic, who is also the president of the HDZ BiH party, said the number of locations in BiH for voting in Croatia's parliamentary election was too small. "It's inappropriate that, if you have the right to vote, you can exercise this right at only four locations. Croatia's next government... should rectify that."

He also said the fact that the Croatian diaspora elected only three MPs "doesn't motivate voters to vote because it's irrelevant if 100,000 or 1,000 people vote. Nonetheless, we'll make sure that those three seats from the diaspora, although Croats from BiH aren't the diaspora, go to the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) and its partners."

Asked whether it was appropriate that he was voting in another state's election, Covic said the laws of Croatia and BiH enabled it and that he would exercise this right as long as it was in force.

Croatian citizens in BiH can vote at 33 polling stations in Sarajevo, Mostar, Tuzla and Banja Luka.

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