Prohibition of referenda on budgetary issues from a Croatian and comparative perspective

  • Valentino Kuzelj Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Keywords: referendum, restriction of referendum decision-making, budget, the exclusive powers of the bodies of representative democracy, The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia, comparative constitutional solutions


The paper discusses the comparative constitutional regulation of prohibitions on referendum decisions on budgetary, fiscal, and financial issues. A ban of this kind in Croatian constitutional jurisprudence is presented, specifically in light of the fact that issues of the budget and its sustainability belong to the sphere of
exclusive powers of the bodies of representative democracy, thereby resulting in a ban on holding referendums on issues related to budget matters. A critical approach is introduced towards the reasoning of the Constitutional Court, which imposes this kind of ban based on a forum (a body of representative democracy) which is allowed to decide on the budget, instead of on the basis of excluded
matter. This raises the danger of an overly broad interpretation of the connection between referendum proposals and the budget, potentially allowing the Government and the parliamentary majority to halt a proposed issue by merely citing its influence on the sphere of their exclusive (budgetary) powers. Therefore, it is necessary for the Constitutional Court to define objective and verifiable parameters on the basis of which it would determine the real impact of the referendum question on the stability of the budget in each individual case. Additionally, it is desirable to amend the Constitution, explicitly prohibiting referendums on
taxation and budgetary laws.