The Slovenia Times

Fate of rail referendum in Supreme Court's hands


The Constitutional Court held that provisions of the act on referendums, challenged by the proponents of the Divača-Koper referendum, are unconstitutional because recourse at the Supreme Court is defined too vaguely.

Pieces of the act on referendum and election campaigns are unconstitutional because they allow the government to participate in the campaign using public funds.

The government formally entering the campaign was what led Vili Kovačič, who spearheaded the 24 September referendum in conjunction with the opposition, to challenge the referendum result at the Constitutional Court.

He argued it was unfair that the government could use public funds to advocate a particular position, which the Constitutional Court has now confirmed.

It said the government was certainly allowed to publicly take sides on a referendum issue, "but in its information it must present the reasons for and against ... Only in such a capacity may it use public funds."

The Constitutional Court did not go into whether the referendum as such was constitutional, instead it instructed the Supreme Court to decide on the mater. However, it defined the Supreme Court's course of action.

The Supreme Court may now reject Kovačič's appeal if it finds that the violations were not grave enough to have affected the outcome of the vote.

Alternately, it may grant the appeal and order a fresh referendum if it finds violations affected the outcome of the vote.

There is also a third option the Constitutional Court has specified: the Supreme Court may grant the appeal and annul the vote, but instead of calling a referendum determine a new result of the referendum.

Regardless of the Supreme Court's decision on this particular case, the National Assembly must amend both laws in line with the decision within a year.

The Constitutional Court's decision was eagerly expected given that a project worth about a billion euro is at stake.

Additionally, an EU grant worth over EUR 100m could be in jeopardy if the entire procedure is drawn out.


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