Saturday, 20 April 2019

ČSSD for tougher conditions of referendum, must not decide on EU

5 March 2018

Prague, March 3 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) have submitted their own bill on general referendum, which does not enable it to be held on issues such as Czexit and which sets tough conditions for provoking a referendum, unlike a bill proposed by the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD).

According to the CSSD's bill, people would not be able to decide on legislative or fundamental rights and freedoms, the state budget, taxes and the appointment and dismissal of people from posts in a referendum.

To provoke a referendum, the initiators would have to collect 850,000 people's signatures at least, which is about eight times more than the SPD-sponsored bill requires.

The CSSD proposal, in addition, binds the initiator of a referendum to gain the required number of signatures within a period of six months.

Neither the SPD nor the CSSD's bill specify the turnout to be required for a referendum to be valid and its result binding.

The CSSD wants a referendum result to be binding only if the the referendum question is responded by voters in the affirmative, or if it is responded in the negative by an absolute majority of all eligible voters, including those who would not participate in the referendum.

A general referendum would be called by the president and the admissibility of the question addressed to voters could be checked by the Constitutional Court, if asked to by the government or a group of deputies or senators, the CSSD proposed.

A decision made by a referendum would be binding on the government and the two houses of parliament until the end of the current Chamber of Deputies' term of office, but for three years at least.

The bill also sets three years as a period that has to pass before a new referendum can decide on the same issue.

Both the CSSD and the SPD's proposals are constitutional bills whose passing needs support from at least three fifths of deputies and three fifths of senators.

The Chamber of Deputies started to deal with the SPD's proposal this week but interrupted the debate until the next session.

The CSSD's proposal will be discussed by the ANO caretaker cabinet before a debate on it starts in parliament.

Czech parties considerably differ on what parameters a general referendum law should have. The Civic Democrats (ODS) and TOP 09 reject a general referendum as such.

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