The Slovenia Times

Parliament Backs Changes to Referendum Legislation



In line with the proposal known as "rejective referendum", the law would be defeated in a referendum if the majority of the valid ballots were against but only under the condition that at least a quarter of all eligible voters voted no. A simple majority is required at the moment.

Tanko proposed that this condition be lowered to a fifth of all eligible voters, which was backed by all deputy groups.

A member of the team of constitutional law experts which has drawn up the constitutional bill proposal expressed concern ahead of the vote regarding the lowering of this quota, proposing that the initial proposal of at least a quarter be retained.

The team's coordinator, Miro Cerar, also said that Tanko's proposal called for a thorough consideration among experts.

Apart from the rejective referendum, the constitutional bill on changes to the referendum legislation also includes a provision that the right to demand a referendum be limited to 40,000 voters, which means both chambers of parliament would be stripped of this right.

A popular vote would be banned on laws dealing with taxes, customs duties and other levies; laws containing urgent measures in defence of the country, security or in response to natural disasters; laws ratifying international treaties and laws designed to tackle established unconstitutionalities.

Under the changes, parliament would also no longer be tied to the outcome of the referendum for a year and could put forward a better law right after the referendum rejection.

Kaučič said that Slovenia had a number of institutes enabling direct decision-making of the citizens but that they were not that well known to the general public. According to him, other European countries have much more limitations in this area.

Kaučič also said that dissenting opinions of two members of the expert team, Ciril Ribičič and Lojze Ude, did not oppose the main idea of the bill.

Ude proposed that a wider discussion be conducted on the constitutional changes which would also include members of the protest movement, and that the ban on referendums on laws dealing with taxes, customs duties and other levies be reconsidered.

Janko Veber of the Social Democrats (SD) proposed a different formulation here, saying that laws "whose rejection would pose a direct threat to the country's financial stability and which would prevent stable implementation of the budget financing" should be off limits.

However, his proposal did not get sufficient support.

The upper chamber of parliament, the National Council, meanwhile rejected the draft constitutional bill yesterday, expressing opposition to the provision stripping the council of the right to propose a referendum.

The National Assembly gave the go-ahead for the launch of procedures to change the Constitution to tighten referendum rules on 1 February.

After the motion was backed by the parliamentary commission, the National Assembly will take a final vote at a plenary session. In order for the bill to be passed, it will need the support of two-thirds of deputies.


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