Sunday, 23 February 2020

ODS, KDU-ČSL: Czech Republic doesn't need referendum law

14 February 2018

Prague, Feb 13 (CTK) - The Czech Republic does not need a law on general referendum on which the government ANO is negotiating with the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and Communists (KSCM), Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy head Martin Kupka said after the party's talks with the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) on Tuesday.

The draft is populist and would harm democracy, Kupka said .

KDU-CSL deputy head Marian Jurecka added that though the ANO minority government declared it would like to debate the bill with all parties in parliament, neither the Christian Democrats nor representatives of the other parties had been invited to the talks on a referendum bill.

The Christian Democrats consider the current balance of forces in the Senate, the upper house of parliament, a safeguard since its consent is needed to push through a constitutional bill, such as that on general referendum, Jurecka said.

The Czech Republic does not need a bill on general referendum, which the failure of a similar draft, including a condition of 500,000 signatures, proved in the past election tenure, Kupka said.

The bill prepared by the SPD would disintegrate democracy and not strengthen it, he added.

He expressed surprise at the Pirates' stance on the issue. He pointed to the Pirates' draft that would introduce two referendum levels, while stricter conditions would apply to a general referendum on constitutional matters.

A general referendum bill has been submitted by the SPD and the government of ANO chairman Andrej Babis, which is ruling in resignation, has taken a neutral stance on it, though its legal experts have recommended to reject it.

The bill will be discussed by the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house. In the meantime, ANO, the SPD, the KSCM and the Pirates have been negotiating about its parameters.

The SPD wants 100,000 signatures as the minimum limit for provoking a referendum, and it wants referenda to be held on any issue.

ANO, for its part, originally proposed 800,000 signatures as the lowest limit for calling a referendum. It wants the bill to bar referenda on issues such as taxes and international affairs, including Czech membership of the EU and NATO.

In connection with ANO's talks with the Communists and SPD, Jurecka warned of the establishment of Babis's minority government with unaffiliated experts, which would be on the verge of constitutionality.

The ANO, SPD and KSCM MPs mentioned at a meeting of the lower house constitutional committee that the entities pushing for a referendum bill, including the Pirates, may command a constitutional three-fifth majority, so they do not need other parties, MP Marek Vyborny (KDU-CSL) pointed pout.

"This makes the safeguard in the Senate even more important," Vyborny said, pointing out that ANO, the KSCM and SPD did not command majority in the upper house.

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