New civil initiative to call a referendum on referendums

“A referendum with fewer signatures and more petition sites” – this is the message of a new civil initiative by 15 unions and seven civil society organisations to launch the collection of signatures for a new referendum so as to ensure that signatures continue to be collected in public places and that the number of signatures required to call a referendum be reduced to 200,000.

The new initiative by associations which had organised referendum campaigns against the outsourcing of non-core services in the public sector and monetisation of motorway operators’ debt is aimed at collecting signatures to oppose the New Referendum Act and the petition-signing will start on 30 May.

“The referendum bill which has gone through a first reading in parliament removes the option for citizens to collect signatures in public places and directs them to government offices. That would mean that a real right that we’ve had since 2000, when the Constitution enabled the activities of civil initiatives, would be turned into a dead letter, because unions and NGOs would not be able to collect the required number of signatures,” unionist Zeljko Stipic told a press conference.

He added that the initiative would deal with a broader aspect of referendums and raise the question of the number of signatures required to call a referendum, particularly since over the past ten years, only one referendum initiative had seen the light of day while all other initiatives had fallen through due to failure to collect sufficient signatures or had come across obstacles at the Constitutional Court.

We are convinced that citizens will recognise the importance of these issues because they are vital to the future of direct democracy. Indirect and direct democracy are not mutually exclusive but complement each other and those in power, who are here today and gone tomorrow, have to realise that there is no government that doesn’t need to be corrected for injudicious decisions, Stipic said.