President Set to Declare Referendum Concerning Snap General Election

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President Zuzana Caputova (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, September 12 (TASR) – President Zuzana Caputova has announced that she’s set to declare a referendum concerning a snap general election.

According to the president, the referendum will definitely involve one question, and it’ll depend on the Constitutional Court whether there will be a second one.

The question that will certainly appear in the plebiscite will ask the public whether it agrees that an early termination of the parliamentary electoral term can be carried out via a referendum or a resolution of Parliament.

As for the second question, which should ask whether people agree that the incumbent Government should resign immediately, Caputova claimed that she has her doubts regarding its constitutionality, which is why she’s decided to ask the Constitutional Court to examine it. The president explained that the question, even if people agreed with it, wouldn’t automatically trigger a snap election. “There will still be the same Parliament and I can appoint a new government based on the seat distribution in the House or a care-taker government,” she remarked.

The two questions were recently supported by approximately 400,000 people in a referendum petition initiated by the opposition Smer-SD party. The president noted that enough signatures had been submitted, which fulfilled the prerequisite for declaring a referendum.

Addressing when the referendum should take place, Caputova claimed that she couldn’t convene it on October 29 – the day of joint regional and municipal elections in the country – as she was previously asked by Smer-SD head Robert Fico. The president maintained that it was impossible to meet this deadline, irrespective of whether she wouldn’t have submitted the contentious question with the Constitutional Court.

The referendum petition, she said, was delivered too late to her for this to happen. The Constitution gives the president a deadline of 30 days to count and verify the signatures. It then gives the president up to 90 days to declare a referendum. “All this is supposed to take place within a total of 120 days from receiving the petition. The petition committee delivered the sheets only 66 days before the regional and municipal elections,” she explained.

Should the Constitutional Court approve the challenged question, Caputova will include it in the referendum. “If I can declare only a one-question referendum in the end, it’ll be the result of the incompetence of the author of the question,” she said, adding that she’s now expecting attacks and lies about how she thwarted the referendum.