Slovenia Slovenians knock out changes in water use law – Investigator says distrust of right-wing government

According to NGOs, changes in the law would have made it possible for construction projects that could pollute water bodies.

Slovene government-driven changes to water laws were poured in clear numbers in a referendum on Sunday. According to the news agency Reuters, among others.

More than 86 percent of those who voted opposed the changes to the law. The result of the referendum is binding.

According to NGOs and environmental activists, the law would allow commercial construction projects near seas, lakes and rivers.

There were fears that tourist services being built near waterways, such as restaurants, hotels, shops and car parks, would restrict access to waterways, increase water pollution and jeopardize drinking water quality.

It’s about above all, there has been distrust of the right-wing government, says Professor of Political Science at the University of Ljubljana Miro Haček Slovenian Broadcasting Corporation RTV: n in an interview.

According to Haček, the result of the vote is a loss to the government.

Prime minister Janez Janšan the law would provide more funding for the protection of lakes and rivers, strengthen flood defenses and tighten regulation of construction projects.

The controversy is seen as one indication of the tense political situation in the country. Janša’s government has been criticized for curtailing democratic and press freedoms, the news agency said AP.

Vote was held after NGOs were able to collect 50,000 signatures on an initiative that called for a referendum on the issue.

Referendums have been held in the history of 25 independent Slovenia. The most recent referendum had the second highest turnout, at 46 percent.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of tourists in Slovenia increased significantly, and in 2019 was registered record number of visits. Many tourist destinations are by the water, such as Lake Bled in northwestern Slovenia and the coastal towns on the 50-kilometer coast of the Adriatic Sea.

The Slovenian Constitution enshrined in 2016 that access to water is a fundamental right for citizens and must not be commercialized.



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