ZAGREB, November 6, 2020 – The Opposition in the parliament on Friday welcomed changes to the parliament’s rules of procedure enabling, in the current epidemic, all MPs to participate in parliament sessions by sitting in several halls and following sessions via video link.
The chair of the parliamentary committee on the constitution, rules of procedure and political system, Drazen Bosnjakovic, said that the changes were in line with a Constitutional Court decision, making sure MPs were not denied the right to participate in debates.
The changes also enable the parliament speaker to authorise an MP to chair over sessions if he and all his deputies end up in self-isolation.
Vesna Nadj of the Social Democratic Party welcomed the changes, stressing that the freedom of speech was at the core of democracy.
Hrvoje Zekanovic of the Croatian Sovereignists supported the changes as well, stressing that the parliament was a place of political battle and the most important political body.
Ljubica Vukovic of the Homeland Movement agreed with the need to make adjustments due to the coronavirus epidemic but objected that party whips could speak on behalf of their parties 10 instead of 15 minutes while individual addresses would last five instead of 10 minutes.
Tomislav Tomasevic of the We Can! party proposed gradually filling more parliamentary chambers with MPs to more rationally use the parliament’s resources and that sessions of parliamentary committees as well as thematic sessions be held online.
Dalija Oreskovic (SSIP, Pametno, GLAS) proposed that the decision on the expiry of the special work regime of the parliament be made by the parliament and not its presidency and that the duration of the special regime be limited to six months and prolonged if necessary.
Marija Jelkovac of the ruling HDZ party said that considering the current extraordinary circumstances, the measures taken so far had not been aimed at restricting the freedom of speech but protecting MPs’ health.