Slovak court says referendum on snap election would be unconstitutional

Slovak court says referendum on snap election would be unconstitutional
President Zuzana Caputova said that if MPs wanted a snap election they would have to change the constitution.
By bne IntelliNews July 8, 2021

The proposed referendum on a snap parliamentary election is not in line with the Slovak Constitution, ruled the Slovak Constitutional Court on July 7 following a request by President Zuzana Caputova. 

Caputova asked the Constitutional Court whether or not the referendum proposing to hold a snap election signed by more than 585,000 people, which was initiated by the opposition party Smer-SD and non-parliamentary parties Voice-SD and the Slovak National Party, is in accordance with the constitution. 

In case it was so, the president asked about the procedure the relevant constitutional authorities should follow after a valid referendum.

At the press conference on July 7, the president said that she would announce a referendum on an early election if the Slovak Parliament decided to amend the constitution, stressing that this could be one of the possible solutions.

The opposition parties that initiated the petition have attacked the verdict as well as the president's decision to refer the case to the Constitutional Court. Currently, Voice-SD has a strong lead in the opinion polls and the referendum would have given it a good chance of creating a new centre-left government. According to the chair of Voice-SD party, former premier Peter Pellegrini, the court deprived voters of their constitutional right. 

"The decision of the Constitutional Court on the referendum is a hard slap in the face for people who have been deprived of the opportunity to have one of their basic democratic rights fulfilled. The decision of the Constitutional Court is a formal and legal verdict, which we must respect but which lacks a democratic spirit and it carries a dangerous precedent for the future," he said, quoted by the Slovak News Agency (TASR), calling for those who signed the referendum to express dissatisfaction with the decision.

The chair of the senior government coalition party OLaNO, ex-Prime Minister and current Finance Minister Igor Matovic condemned Caputova´s decision to ask the court for its statement, robbing Slovaks of their right to express their opinion. 

"I'm not in favour of an early election, but I'm deeply convinced that opposition voters have the right to a referendum on this issue, regardless of whether we like it or not," wrote Matovic.