ZAGREB, October 22, 2018 – The People Decide civil initiative on Sunday called for an independent review of the signatures it had collected in a campaign for a referendum on changing the election system, saying that it suspects manipulation of the signature check that showed last week that not enough signatures had been collected for the referendum petition’s two questions on the election system.
Members of this civil society group held a news conference outside the parliament again accusing Public Administration Minister Lovro Kuščević of manipulating the signature check and the collected data.
“We want an independent review of the signature check because we suspect manipulation. We want an independent commission to be formed without Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s or Kuščević’s yes-men sitting on it and we want it to again count all signatures and check the signatures that were found invalid. Why? Because we know that more than 10% of citizens asked for a referendum on changing the election system,” said Luka Mlinarić, one of the coordinators of the referendum drive.
The People Decide initiative also wants the IT agency APIS, which was in charge of checking the signatures, to enable physical and electronic access to the signatures that were declared invalid and to specify the reason why they were not valid.
The initiative expects the independent commission to include their representative and has called on the parliament, which makes a final decision on a possible referendum, to put further procedure on hold until the signature check is reviewed.
Presenting the results of the signature check last week, Minister Kuščević said that neither The People Decide nor the Truth about the Istanbul Convention initiative had collected 374,740 signatures for each of their referendum questions, which is the required number.
He cited a significant number of invalid signatures and later Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the two petitions’ organisers and everyone interested would be able to see the signatures that were declared invalid.
Natalija Kanački of The People Decide said today that 99.12% (371,750) of the necessary signatures had been collected for the first referendum question on election law changes, and that 97.98% (367,169) had been collected for the second question (which refers to stripping ethnic minority MPs of the right to vote on the budget and on confidence in the government).
In any other situation, such as elections, a margin that narrow would be called election fraud, Kanački said.