Hours ago Slovene Constitutional Court ruled with an eight-to-one vote that the Pahor-Kosor agreement on arbitrage on border between Slovenia and Croatia does not violate Slovenian Constitution. Therefore Slovenian parliament can start the ratification procedure of the agreement which has sparked heated debate on both sides of the border and where both prime ministers – Borut Pahor and Jadranka Kosor – were accused of sell-out, high treason, acting against their respective countries interests and so forth ad nauseam
But while Croatian parliament has ratified the agreement in December 09, things got hairy in Slovenia when the opposition said that it will call a legislative referendum if the coalition rams the ratification through the parliamentary procedure. at that time the coalition backed down, promising to ask the Constitutional Court to decide on constitutionality of the agreement and to hold a non-binding preliminary referendum on the issue before ratification procedure continues.
Today’s decision by the Court is a big victory for PM Pahor, as it comes at a time when his government is severely deficient in the good-news-department. Furthermore, an 8-to-1 vote in favour is a massive boost for the future of the agreement itself, as it shows that the infamous Article 3 is not nearly as dodgy as the opposition (in this case especially Radovan Žerjav‘s SLS) would have us believe.
However, this is only one hurdle cleared. The other part of the government’s pledge was to hold a preliminary referendum on the agreement. While results of a preliminary referendum are not legally binding (and have been ignored on occasions in the past) it would be politically intolerable for the government to lose a referendum and continue with the ratification regardless. In fact, it would have been politically intolerable for the government to lose the referendum. Period. Because if the voters decide against it, Pahor’s stock would sink and since it is not exactly buoyant as it is, he would probably have no choice but to resign.
So, the question du jour is whether go skip the referendum and risk a binding legislative referendum after the agreement is ratified. It seems that this is exactly what the government is mulling right now. Whether or nor this is a good idea and why there might be more to it than meets the eye, will have to wait for tomorrow, though 🙂