“ It can be said that the almost unlimited scope of questions that can be put to a referendum under the law is problematic from the perspective of international standards, which make it clear
that referendums should not be used to undermine a constitutionally mandated division of powers,” the opinion says.
According to the document, there is nothing in the law that would prevent a referendum on a matter that has been specifically reserved in the Constitution for either the President or parliament, such as, for example, the appointment of dismissal of high officials.
“ Moreover, this problem is even more obvious in the light of Article 95 paragraph 1 of the Law which provides that the results of a national referendum by popular initiative ‘are final, they require no approval of any public authority and are binding upon Ukrainian citizens and public authorities,’” the opinion expands.
Also, the Venice Commission pointed out that the Law is very long and complex. It has a number of repetitive provisions and some of its Articles include so many technical details that they risk to confuse both the members of the electoral administration who will have to implement it and voters in general.
“Many of these technical problems could be settled through the adoption of a Unified Electoral Code that would provide a clear set of rules on elections and referendums, notably on technical aspects of operation of electoral administration and registration of voters,” the Commission suggests.
The Venice Commission prepared the opinion on the National Referendum Law per request of Andres Herkel, Chairperson of the PACE Monitoring Committee. “The Commission strongly believes that this would be detrimental to constitutional stability and legitimacy in Ukraine,” it concluded.