Direct Democracy and Disloyal Opposition

In 2018 Croatia ratified the Istanbul Convention. This soon provoked opposition in some conservative parts of society, which organized a referendum initiative to formally denounce the Convention. However, the initiative failed, because both the Government and the Parliament claimed that the legally required number of voters’ signatures to trigger a referendum was not collected. The Constitutional Court, in a rather self-restrained manner, agreed. All this merely provoked even more dissatisfaction with governmental policy and the matter is far from closed. This case has great comparative potential, and this paper will argue that current grassroots movements, and not just elected governments, should also be seriously perceived as possible promotors of modern populist threats; that the use of valid constitutional procedures of direct democracy by such movements may actually disguise their genuine disloyalty to common European values; and that the solution to this new form of threat lies in a carefully designed system of separation between direct- and representative-democracy institutions.