The Slovak referendum’s date has been announced

The Slovak president has announced the date for the referendum on an early election. Zuzana Caputova, the president of Slovakia, said: “I won’t encourage people to participate in the referendum, and I won’t prevent them from participating.” Caputova added that the decision to call referendum results from a particular political party’s campaign.

Zuzana Caputova announced January 21 as the date for the referendum on early elections. A petition to replace Prime Minister Eduard Heger’s government was presented last summer by the opposition party Smer-SD led by ex-premier Robert Fico. This move led to the decision to call a referendum, Intellinews reported. 

Main questions in the referendum

The Constitutional Court issued its prior decision on a similar referendum initiated by Smer-SD and ruled on October 26 that the first question in the petition, which asks whether people want the current government to resign, is unconstitutional. Caputova had referred the first question in the petition to the court.

Referendums or any other non-constitutional actions cannot terminate a public institution’s term of authority, the constitutional court declared in 2021.

Debates about the referendum in Slovakia

Ivan Fiacan, the court’s chairman, stated following the verdict on October 26 that “the referendum would be about an order to the government to file its resignation,” adding that this is against the constitution.

Judge rapporteur Rastislav Kassak stated, “If a referendum with such a question is held and the proposition is passed, then the result would interfere with the legal relations between the Slovak National Assembly and the government defined by the constitution.”

Do you agree that a referendum or the parliament (National Assembly) can end the parliamentary term? This is the second question in the petition. And it will essentially be a vote on the viability of shortening the term of the parliamentary session.

Since the petition’s creation, Heger’s coalition has been on the verge of disintegrating after the libertarian SaS withdrew. Heger is now in charge of a minority cabinet with questionable prospects for advancing its agenda or implementing legislation to address the energy crisis. The coalition split was mainly caused by differing opinions on these policies and personal hostility between SaS and OLaNO party leaders Richard Sulik and Igor Matovic.

Is it worth holding the referendum?

The leading opposition party in the polls, Hlas-SD, declared that while it respects the referendum’s timing, it wants any proposed constitutional amendments to be discussed in parliament. According to the Hlas-SD statement, lawmakers shouldn’t “hand over their responsibility in such an essential matter to Slovak citizens.”

Politicians from SaS and OLaNO stated that while they respect the January referendum, it is a needless waste of tax dollars. Branislav Grohling, a former education minister and vice chairman of the SaS, stated that expenses “should be invoiced to the Smer-SD party” and that it is a “useless waste of money on a ridiculous topic.” The absence of a quorum has caused all but one of Slovakia’s referendums to fail.

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