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Croatia: signatures collected, referendum against minorities

Right-wing groups aim to reform the electoral system

04 June, 16:04
(ANSA) - ZAGREB - In Croatia a coalition of right-wing groups and associations close to the Catholic Church has announced that they have collected the signatures needed to call a referendum on the reform of the electoral system which, among other things, aims to reduce the number representatives of ethnic minorities in the Croatian parliament and significantly limit their powers.

The 'The people decides' initiative has announced that it has already collected almost 400,000 signatures - 25,000 more than the threshold set by law, equal to 10% of all voters. These groups argue that the electoral system in Croatia favours the duopoly of the main parties, giving the political secretaries a strong power in the formation of electoral lists and favouring the influence of minority representatives at the expense of the majority population and Croats living abroad.

Currently the Croatian Parliament has eight representatives of minorities (out of 151 deputies), of which three Serbs and one for the Italian community. In addition to reducing their overall number to five, the new bill would prohibit members of minorities from taking part in the vote of confidence in the government and in the approval of the finance bill.

Almost all the parties taking part in the government and opposition and a large part of the media are opposed to this initiative. Prime Minister Plenkovic said he considered ''unacceptable to reduce minority rights in this way''. Minority leaders say that the negative feelings towards the Serb minority, widespread in a part of the Croatian population, have been abused and manipulated during the collection of signatures needed to call the referendum, which they clearly see as ''anti-Serb''. (ANSA).

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