The president introduced to parliament a new bill on an all-Ukrainian referendum. This is the first bill in a package of democracy that Volodymyr Zelensky promised during the election campaign.
What does this mean?
People will be able to directly rule the country and make decisions on major issues of national importance.
Referendum decisions take effect automatically. They will not need to be separately put into effect through parliament, the Ministry of Justice, and so on. It will no longer be possible to repeat the story of 2000, when people came to the referendum and voted, and the authorities vetoed the decision of the people.
The bill regulates all stages of the referendum.
Stage 1. People hold a meeting of at least 300 voters, at which they formulate a referendum question and form an initiative group, which should include at least 60 voters.
Stage 2. The initiative group, within 60 days from the date of registration, collects 3 million signatures for the referendum. They collect "wet" signatures in 2/3 of the regions and no less than 100 thousand signatures in one region. You can also collect signatures in electronic form, but the Central Election Commission will deal with this.
Stage 3. The President issues a decree on holding a referendum on the last Sunday of the 60-day period from the date of signing of the decree.
The initiative group will be able to independently form a fund for the preparation and conduct of the referendum. Parties and public organizations that support the one side of a referendum position will also be able to create their own funds.
But the fund of the initiative group for the referendum is not limited. They will pay for the preparation and conduct of the referendum from the state budget and the referendum fund. In particular, the money will go to pay for the work of commission members, print newsletters, and so on.
Parties and public organizations that advocate for or against the referendum issue and have registered funds will be able to spend money on campaigning.
Only people in a referendum will be able to amend sections 1, 3 and 13 of the Constitution, make decisions on changing the territory of Ukraine, and make national decisions.
Of course, the law explicitly provided that it is impossible to submit to a referendum issues that threaten the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Ukraine. Also, in a referendum it will not be possible to cancel taxes or to judge someone.
And in conclusion. For each referendum, it will be possible to put forward no more than one specific issue. But it will not be possible to reconsider the decision of the referendum earlier than in three years.
Now the fate of the bill is in the hands of parliament. It will be interesting to see how parties that often called for a referendum will vote for its particular issues.