Committee Recommends Constitutionality Test for COVID Referendum Questions

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Image: Pexels
Image: Pexels

Parliament is expected to vote on the recommendation before the Easter recess.

Seven members of the parliamentary committee were for and five against asking the Constitutional Court to assess the question against the certificates, while 11 were for and one – Božo Petrov of Bridge – against the constitutionality test for the question against the crisis management team.

The opposition Bridge wants Article 17 of the Constitution to include the declaration of an epidemic as a moment when constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms can be restricted, but only by a two-thirds majority in parliament.

The party also wants the law protecting the population from infectious diseases to be amended so that parliament, and not a national crisis management team, decides on restrictions of rights and freedoms.

Nikola Grmoja of Bridge requested the recusal of judge Miroslav Šumanović if the Constitutional Court will assess the referendum questions because of his statement in 2019 that the people cannot decide by referendum on changing the Constitution.

Petrov said the conditions for holding the referendum had been met and that it should be called without the Constitutional Court’s opinion.

According to the opposition Social Democratic Party, the petition to amend the law was not prepared well, that it is against the Constitution, and that the court should assess it. “It’s simply impossible for every decision, including technical ones, to be implemented through parliament,” party president Peđa Grbin said.

Constitutional law expert Sanja Barić said two decisions should be made. “The legislative petition is counter-constitutional, and I doubt the constitutionality of the petition to change the Constitution.”

Bridge called her out for acting as a politician and not an expert.

The committee’s external member, constitutional law expert Branko Smerdel, said the Constitutional Court should assess both questions. He warned about a flood of populists and “referendum-mania”, pushing for amending the referendum law.

The Constitutional Court has 30 days to say if the referendum questions are in compliance with the Constitution.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.


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