LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenians rejected a new media law Sunday which the government had said was designed to limit political influence on the state radio and television broadcaster, in a national vote marked by low turnout.
Preliminary results of the referendum released by 2055 GMT showed 72.6 percent of voters rejected the law, with only 27.4 percent backing it, the state electoral committee said. Turnout was 14.6 percent.
Parliament passed the law in October but the opposition demanded a referendum on it, saying the law would enable privatisation of RTV Slovenia, make its programs more commercial and increase political influence over them.
The center-left parties had promised to change the law on state radio and television, enacted by the previous center-right government in 2005, ahead of the election in 2008. That law put RTV firmly under the control of the government and parliament.
The existing law on the state radio and television was also the subject of a national referendum in 2005 when it was confirmed narrowly with 50.3 percent of the vote. Turnout last time round was double Sunday’s figure at 30.7 percent.
Referendum results are binding in the small Alpine country of two million people which joined the European Union in 2004 and the euro zone in 2007.
“The result of the referendum shows that the government does not have sufficient credibility to attract people to vote but in spite of that it will not have a big impact on the government,” Meta Roglic, a political commentator of daily Dnevnik, told Reuters.
A slow economic recovery, following a recession, rising unemployment and plans for painful structural reforms have hurt the government’s popularity over the past year.
Parliament is due by December 20 to vote on a pension reform, which will raise the retirement age to 65 from 58 for men and 57 for women and was designed to reduce the burden of the rapidly aging population on the budget and cut the budget deficit.
Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton