By Marija Avramovic – Zagreb
Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution, Standing Orders and Political System, Pedja Grbin announced that in September will be initiated the procedure on amendments to the Law on Referendum in the parts that can be changed without amending the Constitution.
“For several years the members of the Committee have been indicating the need for amending the referendum framework in Croatia, just like it has been repeatedly pointed out by the Constitutional Court with its rulings on referendum questions of civic initiatives On behalf of the family and The Committee for the defense of Croatian Vukovar”, Grbin said yesterday for Croatian news agency (Hina).
He said that he was aware, that at this moment changes to the Constitution are not likely, adding that therefore they’re obliged to make amendments to the Law on Referendum in the part that can be changed without amending the Constitution.
“That doesn’t mean we are giving up on changing the Constitution, but we must accept reality and try to fix what is possible to be fixed in the Law, without a two-thirds majority in Parliament”, Grbin said.
Proposed amendments to the Law on Referendum will concern changes in the signature collection process, decision-making process and the ways in which they can be formulated in the decisions taken by the initiators of the referendum, and various civic initiatives.
He also asserted that the ruling coalition has never had the idea that the number of signatures required for a referendum should increase and emphasized that the idea was to reduce the number of signatures.
In September, the text of the amendments to the Law on Referendum will be prepared and defined by its proponent, the Government, the Ministry of Administration or Parliament and extensive public discussion through roundtables will be conducted, in which NGOs will also be included.
“We’re not making the amendments to the Law on Referendum because of the so-called Referendum on the Cyrillic alphabet”, Grbin said, adding however that the last two referendums – the initiative On behalf of the family and The Committee for the defense of Croatian Vukovar pointed to the wide range of problems.
NGO GONG approved the proposed changes saying they’re “on track” and warned of the need for a broad public debate on the subject.
“This is on the right track to adjust the things regarding the referendum that can be regulated by the law”, Dragan Zelic from GONG said and noted that for better regulation of the referendum amendments to the Constitution should be carried out.
Zelic emphasized how GONG would not support the idea that some media are reporting, according to which it would be possible to collect signatures only in state government offices, adding that the places where the signatures should not be collected ought to be prescribed, such as, for example religious buildings and public institutions.