Cyprus Mail

Efforts to give people a greater voice in parliament underway


Efforts are underway in parliament to give the public a greater say as to what is debated and even the power to table legislation and reverse government decisions.

Diko MP Christiana Erotokritou tabled the legislative proposal at Wednesday’s House justice committee meeting, seeking to amend the law so that parliament will be obliged to debate an issue called on by the public if 5,000 signatures are gathered.

The proposal also sets out for procedures to begin in overturning a government decision should enough signatures be collected.

The committee heard that a bill is already being prepared, reportedly nearing completion, which sets out for a debate in parliament to be triggered should 8,000 signatures be collected.

Disy MP and head of the committee Nikos Tornaritis told MPs that the bill will see a committee appointed by the cabinet to raise an issue before the cabinet.

The committee will then be able to call on the government to reverse a decision or to proceed with certain measures.

He explained that this is the second time the topic is being discussed at the committee and an in-depth analysis of the bill will soon take place in parliament prior to an eventual vote.

A representative from the deputy research and innovation ministry told MPs that the bill is at an advanced stage and is being prepared, explaining that signatures and proposals will be handled digitally.

Elam MP Sotiris Ioannou bristled during the debate, noting that three years ago his party had collected 20,000 signatures calling for the closure of all crossing to the north.

“The proposal was handed over to the government which simply ignored it,” Ioannou said.

Elsewhere, Tornaritis explained that the EU has already set up the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), whereby once one million signatures are collected, issues can be raised at the European Parliament.

The ECI has been promoted as a way of increasing direct democracy and was introduced with the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007.

The e-petition proposals are seen as a way of ensuring that the public’s concerns are heard by the government and parliament, while also giving the ability to press for actions.

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