Constitutional Limits of Legislative Referendum: The Case of Slovenia

  • Ciril Ribičič University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Law Poljanski nasip 2, 1000 Ljubljana
  • Igor Kaučič University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Law Poljanski nasip 2, 1000 Ljubljana
Keywords: referendum, legislative referendum, abrogatory referendum, public referendum initiative, constitutional court, constitutional democracy, positive activism, separation of powers, prohibition of referendum, a referendum majority, quorum, popular veto


A relatively broad accessibility of the referendum as well as its inadequate normative regulation enabled is use (and abuse) for pursuing narrow political, including party interests, and the interests of well-organized civic groups. The Constitutional Court has had to decide whether to prevent a referendum due to the unconstitutionality of the referendum question or because its results would lead to unconstitutional consequences. Four decisions of the Constitutional Court in particular have left an important mark: by referring to the principle of constitutional democracy, whereby the Constitutional Court provides protection of fundamental rights and liberties, even against majoritarian beliefs, the Court prevented referendums on the deprivation of the citizenship; on the redress of injustice inflicted upon the "Erased persons"; on the construction of a mosque and on raising judges' salaries. The new constitutional regulation contains three fundamental sets of changes, namely changes in the field of the referendum initiative; the limits of the possible referendum subject-matter; and changes pertaining to the legitimacy of the referendum decision.