The Slovenia Times

MPs say no to referendum initiative against police powers for army


This effectively stops the collecting of the necessary 40,000 signatures in support of the referendum.

Deputies decided for the move based on a constitutional provision which prohibits votes on laws entailing urgent measures in defence of the country and security.

The view was backed by all deputy groups bar the opposition United Left (ZL), whose deputies argued that the real security threat were not the "bare-handed refugees" but inciting of intolerance.

ZL head Luka Mesec said the government should do all it can to prevent the refugee crisis from being used as an excuse for spreading racial and religious intolerance. A clear division between the powers of police and army is an important achievement of the civilisation, he stressed.

But several deputies argued the legislative changes included provisions that prevent any abuse of the limited powers by the army.

Marjan Dolinšek of the ruling Party of Modern Centre (SMC) said the changes were an urgently needed measure in the "changed security situation", because they allow for immediate and efficient action on all of Slovenia's territory.

The coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) too supports all measures to protect the border, citizens and help migrants, Benedikt Kopmajer said.

Žan Mahnič of the opposition Democrats (SDS) meanwhile called the referendum initiative an "unpatriotic move and an attempt to demolish the legal order". According to him, safety is man's fundamental need and the police cannot handle the situation alone.

Matej Tonin of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) too stressed that the police officers were overwhelmed by the situation and that the refugee wave showed no signs of abating.

The implementation of the changes giving army limited police powers was put on hold after the Ljubljana-based alternative radio station Radio Študent submitted a bid for a referendum against the changes last week backed by about 3,000 voter signatures.

It then started collecting 40,000 verified voter signatures to call the referendum. This endeavour has now been halted.

The enforcement of the changes could also be stopped with a potential constitutional review of the referendum ban.

Radio Študent chief editor Martina Dervarič told the STA this option was still being considered. She said their goal was primarily to open a debate on the changes.

The referendum initiators argue that legislative changes are unnecessary, as they believe the army's presence at the border in exceptional cases is possible already under the existing law. They therefore believe the changes are introducing militarization and spreading fear among the citizens.


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