Ljubljana – The National Assembly has voted 46:31 to declare as inadmissible a referendum on amendments to the budget implementation act that exempt the military from certain budget constraints.
The vote on Tuesday night came after the opposition Left launched a referendum initiative, prompting the government to seek a parliamentary vote under constitutional provisions that make certain issues off limits to referendum votes.
Under the changes, passed in late March, military investment would be exempt from funding restrictions which prohibit budget users from taking on liabilities that would affect budgets in years ahead.
The centre-left opposition claimed this provision of the budget act was an attempt by the government to bypass the Constitutional Court, which recently stayed legislation on EUR 780 million worth of defence investments pending a final decision.
During the parliamentary debate, coalition MPs were joined by the National Party (SNS), Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) and minority MPs in arguing that budget bills were simply shielded from referendum motions.
The centre-left opposition retorted that the defence spending provision was foisted into the budget act, in what one Left MP described as “an attack on the Constitutional Court”.
The Left, which has long waged a campaign against military spending, has already announced it will challenge the parliament’s decision at the Constitutional Court.
At issue is an roughly EUR 780 million in defence spending over several years that the government says is urgent to end years of financial starvation of the army and bring Slovenia closer to meeting NATO defence spending targets.