Thursday, 16 August 2018

Four Czech parties are for binding referendum

ČTK |
7 February 2018

Prague, Feb 6 (CTK) - Representatives of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis's ANO, the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), Communists (KSCM) and Pirates have agreed that the general referendum should be binding, SPD leader Tomio Okamura told journalists on Tuesday.

The parties still differ on some questions, most notably on the topics on which a referendum should decide.

ANO insists on its view that departure from the EU should not be among the questions to be asked in a referendum, former justice minister Helena Valkova (ANO) said.

The parties are to continue with their discussion of the referendum next week.

Valkova said the four parties had met on Tuesday because the deputies should not reject the SPD proposal of a general referendum in the first reading at the Chamber of Deputies session in late February, Valkova said.

In mid-January, the government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) did not reject the SPD constitutional act proposing the general referendum.

Okamura said there was the consensus at the meeting that the Chamber of Deputies should send the bill to the Senate by mid-year.

Valkova said the talks had been attended by the parties which were interested in the topic.

The Social Democrats were absent because it is not yet obvious who will represent them after their national conference scheduled for next Sunday.

The representatives of the parties discussed the essential affairs or what should or should not be the topic of a referendum, how many people could call it and what should be the turnout for its validity.

Okamura said there was a consensus on the binding character of a referendum. The parties were proposing the figures between 0 and 35 percent for the limit required if a referendum is to be valid.

"When it comes to the signatures needed to call a referendum, 500,000 to 700,000 are being spoken about," Okamura said.

The SPD had proposed 100,000, while ANO suggested 800,000 signatures.

Pirates deputy Mikulas Ferjencik said a lower quorum could relate to internal affairs such as smoking in restaurants.

The membership of international organisations should be decided on by the qualified, 60 percent majority, he added.

The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) rejects the general referendum law as a whole.

"The institute of general referendum should not be in the parliamentary democracy of our type," party leader Petr Fiala said.

"This is an affair which disputes political responsibility and which does not allow to decide well on important questions," Fiala said.

The referendum should be on the lower level of politics such as decisions in municipalities.

The ODS is not against a special referendum on crucial affairs such as the acceptance of the euro, but such a referendum should always be called by a specific law on a specific question, Fiala said.

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