The Slovenia Times

Opponents of Covid restriction changes to collect signatures in autumn


Ljubljana - The proponents of two referendum initiatives challenging the changes to the communicable diseases act which govern epidemic restrictions are to start collecting signatures for the votes on 1 September if a referendum on the bill is permitted by legal experts.

Each group will have until 5 October to collect 40,000 signatures needed for their motions to succeed, according to the National Assembly's website.

However, the signature collections might not take place since the changes are meant to remedy the unconstitutional provisions of the existing law while the constitution prohibits referendums on such bills.

The National Assembly legal service has said it is looking at all possible scenarios. It has until 19 July to decide whether to permit the referendum or not.

The bill introduces more oversight when the government introduces restrictions of movement or assembly during an epidemic after the Constitutional Court deemed the existing provisions too vague a year ago. It imposes approval by parliament every time the government would like to extend restrictive measures beyond 30, 60 and 90 days.

The referendum motions were filed by the ad-hoc People's Coalition and by the Conscious Residents of Slovenia. While the former argue the changes should not have been fast-tracked through parliament, the latter believes they will only legalise new tyranny.

The changes were drafted by the NGO Legal Network for the Protection of Democracy, filed to parliament by a group of coalition MPs and passed on 29 June in a 49:20 vote. The NGO expressed belief last week that a referendum on such a bill cannot be called.

If the referendum gets the green light after all, the proponents will have until 5 October to collect the 40,000 signatures and another seven days to deliver them to the National Assembly. After this, the National Assembly has a week to call the referendum.

Apart from these two initiatives, the opposition Democrats (SDS) will also be collecting referendum signatures between 1 September and 5 October, hoping to block legislative changes that would increase the number of government departments by three.

Usually, signature collection campaigns follow immediately after a referendum proponent has filed 2,500 signatures needed at the first stage of the process, the only exception being the summer break, in which case signatures collection starts on 1 September.

If a law is blocked in a referendum, the National Assembly cannot pass one with the same content for a year.


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