Expert: Referendum questions undoubtedly unconstitutional

NEWS 03.06.2018 12:56
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Source: N1

Collecting signatures within two separate initiatives for two referendums, the one aimed at the changes to the electoral system and another referring to the Istanbul Convention, was the perfect tactic, said expert for constitution Sanja Baric.

Baric, who commented on the initiatives for two referendums in Croatia, said the tactics they used was perfect and well-known in the world. “You have to find a topic that would attract people, and then you can pass another topic which is harder to be understood,” she explained.

Speaking for N1, Baric said that the referendum questions planned for the election system referendum are “undoubtedly” unconstitutional.

“They listed several questions and elements of the election system they want to amend. Citizens are the most familiar with the reduction of rights of minorities, which is absolutely unconstitutional,” said Baric.

One of the two proposed questions suggests restricting minority MPs voting rights, barring them from voting on the country’s budget or the composition of the government.

Baric further said that the election system was not good and had to be reformed, but that what is being launched at the moment means only “an attempt to change five very small screws in one very complex system.” According to her, these minor changes will not produce the desired effect.

As for the initiative for the referendum to repeal the Istanbul Convention, Baric said it was “a totally unconstitutional initiative.”

“Repealing the international treaties falls under a sole jurisdiction of state bodies. (…) Could people decide on repealing of international treaties? Of course not, because the Constitution restricts everything even people,” she added.

The conservative-backed civil initiative opposing the Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women did not collect enough signatures for a referendum to repeal the Convention. The initiative needed to collect around 374,740 signatures, or 10percent of the Croatian electorate, in two weeks (May 13-May 27) in order for the referendum to repeal the Convention to be called. They collected around 371,821 signatures.

 Asked if the Constitutional Court was bearing responsibility and if it should state its opinion on this matter, Baric said that the court did have a possibility to do that but that “we expect a lot from the Constitutional Court because it has to fix the mistakes of others.”

“That is a story about the thirteen who are sitting there, their characters, their mutual relations. One has to have a stamina, courage to make the right step. It depends on the most on the Constitutional Court President and that chance has been missed but will come again soon,” said Baric, commenting the court’s role.

She also touched upon the issue of the deadline to collect the signatures for aforementioned initiatives, saying that there was no way to prove if the signatures were collected after the deadline.

“One should not be a lawyer to see catastrophic mistakes,” she concluded.