Regions Revisited on a Referendum

Slovenian parliament yesterday passed a motion to hold a referendum on establishing regions in Slovenia. Those who frequent this blog on a regular basis might remember this post, detaliing the why’s and for’s of pa policy fiasco that is the legislation on regions. Although the legislation, proposed by the government of Prime Ministger Janez Janša suffered a resounding defeat, Janša (not unlike Hillary Clinton) refuses to admit defeat. Which – in all honesty – is understandable.

14-regions version of Slovenia (source)

Afterall, this is an election year and given all the rush to fulfil those pre-election promises given four years ago, regions are not to be overlooked. Did I say “a rush to fulfil pre-elections promises? Please read “a rush to create the appearance of trying to fulfil pre-election promises but that stupid opposition is so intent on grabbing the power that they’ll do anything even block projects that are in the national interest“.

Just to make it clear: Creating a regional level of government is not an easy task, especially since there is little or no precedent on which to build a political and social consensus. To create such a system, the following changes in the political and legislative system are necesary (off the top of my head):

– constitutional ammendments (absolute 2/3 majority needed)
– law defining the regions and their powers (possibly a normal 2/3 majority needed)
– law on regional elections (possibly a normal 2/3 majority needed)
– ammending the law on municipalities (a normal majority needed),
– ammending various general and specific laws, transferring powers from state and municipalites to regions (a normal majority

This is not something you go about six… no… five months before elections. But since it already crashed and burned in the parliament, it is trying to cover its back by calling a referendum (possibly referenda) on regions, to be held on June 22 (a month from now). Mind you, the results of this vote will not be binding (the finer point of Slovenian referendum legislation will be discussed here at a later date).

Obviously the government aims to get some sort of a positive result and shift the blame on the opposition for failing to provide the necesary votes to achieve the 2/3 majority. Which would be all fine and dandy if it were not for the small fact that even the coalition parties cannot agree on the number of future regions. SDS and SLS are (once for a change) advocating 13 regions plus special powers for capital city, NSi wants only six regions, whereas DeSUS (the reqular pain in JJ’s ass) thinks regions aren’t necesary in the first place.

So everything now depends on the exact nature of the referendum question and the way the referendum will be held. There are a couple of different way to go about it. Allow me to elucidate with refferences to specifics:

1. You hold only one referendum with a question along the lines of Do you support creation of regions in Slovenia

This is the safe way to do it. The question is as vague as possible and will probably yield a positive result. The problem is that most parties (and people) already agree on this, rendering this option useless and making it just one more way to throw 2,5 milion euros (approximate costs of a referendum in Slovenia) out the windown

2. You hold only one referdum, but you detail specific regions in the question

This is probably the politically acceptable way to do it. It would require some sort of minimal agreement on the number of regions and their names, leaving their exact borders up to later legislation. The trick of course is that there is no agreement on the number of regions.

3. You arbitrarily create several “referendum areas”, which are loosely modeled after the regions and ask people in those areas if they support the creation of their respective regions. Again, this would require some sort of agreement of the number of regions, but his option leaves more room for maneuvering as some referenda can suceed and others can fail, giving the government to join and split future regions almost at will, but still claim to execute the will of the people.

The propper way would of course be not to hold a referendum at all. Or hold it together with parliamentary elections. But I strongly suspect that no party would risk making regions the focal point of this elections. There’s too much at stake. At least, everyone agrees on that. 😀

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

4 thoughts on “Regions Revisited on a Referendum”

  1. I don’t think a region-level balkanization (and I use the word strictly in the geopolitical sense) of Slovenia is such a hot idea. If it were up to me, I’d go as high as three regions (East, West, Center [greater Ljubljana]), no more.

  2. I know quite a lot of people here in the west that would like to see a split along the old rapal border.. Mainly to not be assosiated with Net tv.

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