Prime Minister, Parties React to Referendum Petition Success

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 12, 2019 – Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Sunday that he respected every referendum initiative and that parliament would decide on the union-led referendum initiative “67 is too much” after examining the signatures gathered for a referendum petition.

The initiative’s organisers announced at a midnight press conference that they had gathered over 600,000 signatures for a referendum against the statutory retirement age being raised to 67.

“I respect every referendum initiative, including this one. Parliament will decide on this matter after the signatures have been presented,” Plenković told reporters in Zagreb.

Asked if Parliament would ask the Constitutional Court to assess whether the referendum question was in line with the Constitution, the prime minister said that this would be decided by Parliament.

Branko Grčić of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Sunday congratulated the union-led “67 is too much” initiative on gathering 600,000 signatures for a referendum on the pension system.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an SDP convention in Zagreb, Grčić said this was a good initiative for future pensioners, especially for people for whom it would be difficult to work until 67 years of age for health reasons.

Asked if the referendum would be held, Grčić said that the unions’ proposal was very consistent. “It is basically a substitute for the law that was already passed by parliament. I think that everything will be clear after confirmation by the referendum. I don’t think the government will have any choice there.”

He said that the government’s reaction to the signature gathering campaign was arrogant because it used all means available to deter people from supporting the referendum initiative.

Responding to a reporter’s remark that five years ago the SDP had supported a similar measure, Grčić recalled that their proposal was that the retirement age be raised as of 2038 and that it was prompted by efforts to speed up economic growth. “Unfortunately, the government that succeeded us went in a totally different direction. The circumstances today are completely different from those of three years ago,” he said.

Ines Strenja of the opposition MOST party said on Sunday she was glad that the union-led referendum initiative “67 is too much” had gathered over 600,000 signatures for a referendum on the pension reform.

She said that this was a message to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković that the people wanted further consultations on the pension reform.

“MOST has supported this referendum initiative just as it did all other referendum initiatives because the people have the right to say what they want the country to look like,” she said during a presentation of her party’s platform for the forthcoming European Parliament elections in the northern Adriatic city of Rijeka.

Strenja said that the pension reform was not good. “There’s much more than the retirement age of 67. Croats have a shorter life expectancy than EU citizens, so perhaps the retirement age should be even lower than 65. We want EU standards while forcing our people to be in an unequal position in relation to EU citizens,” she said.

Speaking of the EP elections, Strenja said that if elected, MOST’s MEPs would be advocating the interests of Croatian citizens rather than of different political groupings. “We want a just Croatia that will be an equal member of the EU and that will fight for its sovereign rights such as the right to an exclusive economic zone. Croatia can do so much more, especially with regard to EU funding,” she said, adding that they would also insist on better healthcare for all, especially for people in rural areas and on the islands.

More referendum news can be found in the Politics section.


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