In a surprise turn of events, at the beginning of today's government cabinet session Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced that the government will accept all of the demands from the "67 is too much" initiative. As expected, reactions quickly followed. Besides unions that gathered more than 700 000 valid signatures to call a referendum, the opposition also commented in parliament.
After more than 700 000 people signed the petition for a referendum organized by the "67 is too much" initiative, today's regular government cabinet session began with a surprise. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the government has heard the message from Croatian citizens.
“We have adopted a decision saying that we will accept the proposal by this citizen's initiative in entirety, and send a proposed law to Croatian parliament on changes to the law on pension insurance. So we will in entirety accept the demands of the referendum initiative and change the law on pension insurance in certain elements, meaning a few points, in a manner that will be accepted by parliament,” said Plenković.
“We have accepted the will of 700 000 citizens, we have understood that our thesis on sustainability, suitability and inter-generational equality can remain in the event of accepting this referendum initiative, or accepting the article of the law as it was formulated by the unions,” said Minister of Labor and the Pension System Josip Aladrović.
All are now wondering what the union initiative will now do. Will it give up on the referendum?
“Under the condition that the government accepts completely what we demanded in our referendum question, we at the level of the three Union federations and organizational committee, must come to an agreement on how we will respond to this. Today that is not possible considering the fact that my colleague Ribić is away so we will probably have an answer in that direction tomorrow,” said union leader Krešimir Sever.
On the other hand Mladen Novosel claims that the referendum must be held.
“What I can absolutely say today is that we are not even thinking of waiting for months or some other time for the government to forward such a proposed law into procedure or that it gets adopted, because all scenarios are possible such as stalling and so forth. We have a clear stance today, the referendum must be held, this issue needs to be changed through a referendum,” said Novosel.
While unions still need to decide what to do next, the opposition in parliament was not surprised by the government decision.
“This is a capitulation of the Croatian Democratic Union's government, that has understood that its bad, and for citizens damaging, proposal, will be brought down in the end,” said Social Democratic Party MP Peđa Grbin.
“This was the only possible move, meaning admission of defeat and accepting the union's demands,” said Nikola Grmoja from the MOST party.
“That wasn't a pre-election trick, because why would we go to a referendum if it can be resolved in a simpler manner,” asked Goran Aleksić from the SNAGA party.
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