The MOST opposition party today announced the provisional results of its petition drive to force a referendum against COVID-certificates and the un-elected National Civil Protection Directorate. The referendum is not only looking to abolish COVID-certificates and the directorate, but to also have parliament adopt all decisions regarding restrictive measures with a two thirds majority.
MOST officials say they have gathered some 400 thousand signatures, which is well in excess of the 368 thousand required by law to force a referendum. MOST Party President Božo Petrov said that the party would submit the signatures to parliament after they have verified them: “What I can tell you right now, is that we will submit the valid signatures to parliament on January 24th.”
After the last referendum effort, to force sweeping changes to the election law, was blocked over an unheard of ten percent of invalidated signatures, MOST MP Nikola Grmoja said that there is no doubt about the validity of the signatures, and said that this time the government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković would have to provide proof that a signature is invalid: “We have the signatures, and I don't advise them to try and block this referendum through various schemes and machinations. We will submit valid signatures, and for each signature that they deem invalid, they will have to prove why that signature is invalid.”
MOST expects parliament to complete the review process by February. MOST MP Marija Selak Raspudić: “We expect the prime minister and parliament to call a referendum and finally give the citizens of this country an opportunity to have their say about how this pandemic is being handled.”
Here's how Prime Minister Plenković commented on the referendum initiative, once again taking a dismissive stand towards the idea of direct democracy on this issue: “This entire initiative, with all due respect to our citizens who signed it, is, in its essence, pointless. It will not change anything in terms of how the pandemic is being handled. Parliament has the authority to choose how it will adopt decisions, and we adopted those decisions almost two years ago.”
The prime minister however, did not comment on media speculation that there is serious consideration underway to have the State Election Commission review the signatures, as was the case before the previous referendum drive, and that observers be allowed to monitor the verification process.
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