Between a sword and a wall, Virny green-lights constitutional referendum

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Peaceful protests, led by Liberal leader Andrew Blackhorse (center, in red) outside the Méntanag (Parliament building) on Wednesday.

The Enkâkourak, Shounn Virny, has allowed his parliamentary group to vote in favor of the joint Liberal-Left proposal to call for a referendum to decide whether or not the present Constitution is sacked and a Constitutional Assembly is convoked. The move takes place after a series of inter-party talks and extensive negotiation.

In the past few weeks, Sabioveronese politics have been increasingly polarized, with most national politicians taking sides as either “reformists” and “constitutionalists”. While the Liberals, the largest party in Parliament, and the Left Alliance, the junior party in the current governing coalition, officially adopted reformist stances, the National Artists’ Guild (NNS), the senior party in coalition and second-largest block in Parliament, has been divided and inconsistent on the issue. The NNS leader, Shounn Virny, had until now been fiercely constitutionalist, routinely refusing to address the topic in Parliament.

The decision to convoke a binding referendum, which is to take place on March 5 in the central regions is the result of last-minute talks, aided by the peaceful pro-reform demonstrations led by the Liberals and the Leftists last week against the increasingly unpopular Enkâkourak, who caused controversy last month after taking a day off unannounced the day an emergency session of Parliament had been convened. Three demonstrations had already been staged outside the Méntanag, the building housing the Parliament and the Tribunal of the Kingdom in the Darmosari district of Alios.

Parliament had to draft an extensive law to decide on the specifics of this referendum, the first of its kind in Sabia and Verona’s history. No constitutional or legal precedent existed for popular consultations of this sort, and the present Constitution, adopted in 2015, does not mention the possiblity of being replaced.

The 2015 Constitution was drafted by the Congress of Salisse, a conference of self-appointed political leaders from different parties held in the former Sabioveronese capital, Salisse, on 18 August 2015. The political elite saw itself in need of adopting a new constitution in face of the Haronos Plan, which was going to change Sabioveronese politics drastically upon its execution on 25 August 2015.

In the past month, criticism of the 2015 constitution has become widespread, chiefly thanks to the extensive campaign of the Left Alliance, a party that makes constitutional reform one of its main concerns. Among other things, the Alliance complains the present constitution is too vague on some subjects, such as judicial authority and government formation, and too inflexible on others, such as territorial organization and electoral laws. Another of the Alliance’s concern is the repeated mention of the division of sounosy, or powers, which they claim is too complicated and ineffective.

With the question “Should the 2015 Constitution be reppealed and a Constitutional Assembly be formed?”, the referendum is due to take place in three weeks’ time, and campaigning for the “Yes” and “No” sides has already begun.

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