In 2018 Croatia ratified the Istanbul Convention. This soon provoked opposition in some conservative parts of society, which organized a referendum to denounce the Convention. However, this failed: the Government and the Parliament claimed that the legally required number of voters’ signatures was not collected. The Constitutional Court, in a rather self-restrained manner, agreed. This provoked even more dissatisfaction with governmental policy, and the matter is far from closed.
This case has great comparative potential, and this paper argues that grassroots movements, and not just elected governments, should also be perceived as possible promotors of 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.