Monday, 19 February 2018

Pirates for two types of general referendum

ČTK |
13 February 2018

Prague, Feb 12 (CTK) - The Czech Pirates propose that the general referendum bill, now under discussion, include two types of referendums, a common one, whose initiating would require 100,000 to 250,000 people's signatures, and a constitutional one, for which twice as many signatures would be needed.

A common referendum's result should be binding if supported by more than 50 percent of the participants. A constitutional referendum's result should be binding if 60 percent of the participants voted for it.

Most members of the Pirates support the proposal as formulated by the party's group of deputies, but some 20 percent of them consider the parameters required for calling a referendum too soft, an internal poll has shown.

The rank-and-file has mainly voiced reservations about the parameters proposed for provoking a constitutional referendum, in which people might vote on issues such as the country's membership of the EU or NATO, or changes to the Czech constitution.

In their current talks with the ANO movement, the Freedom and Democracy (SPD) and the Communists (KSCM), the Pirate lawmakers also say they want constitutional referendums to be introduced only after some time following the introduction of common referendums.

In the party's internal poll, the lawmakers' position has been supported by 56 percent of the party's voting members, while 13 percent completely reject a referendum and 20 percent express fears that it would be too easy to call a referendum based on the proposed conditions.

Within the poll, the Pirate members often said they approve of a common referendum, but have reservations about the constitutional one. Most often, they call for setting a stronger required majority of those supporting the referendum's result than what the lawmakers have proposed.

Many members proposed that a 50-percent turnout be required for a constitutional referendum to be binding, or that a minimum percentage share of all eligible voters be set who would have to support the referendum question for the decision to be binding.

Some also proposed that a constitutional change should require approval from people in a referendum and simultaneously also the approval from a constitutional majority of lawmakers in both houses of parliament.

Those demanding stricter parameters of constitutional referendums said they want to prevent situations where a minority of voters would decide on issues that would fundamentally influence the country's future. Some also expressed fears of possible disinformation campaigns aimed to influence a referendums' results.

A general referendum bill has been submitted by the SPD and the minority government of ANO, which is ruling in resignation, has taken a neutral stance on it.

The bill will be discussed by the Chamber of Deputies. In the meantime, ANO, the SPD, the KSCM and the Pirates have been negotiating about its parameters.

The SPD wants 100,000 signatures as the minimum limit for provoking a referendum, and it wants referendums to be held on any issue.

ANO, for its part, originally proposed 800,000 signatures as the lowest limit for calling a referendum. It wants the bill to bar referendums on issues such as taxes and international affairs, including Czech membership of the EU and NATO.

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