60,000 signatures enough for region-wide referendum in Wallonia

The Walloon Parliament has passed a law that will make it possible to organised region-wide referenda on issues that are competences of the region. Previously, as in Flanders, referenda in Wallonia could only be organised at a municipal level.  

There has long been a discussion in Wallonia about region-wide referenda. On Tuesday evening this was put to bed when the Walloon Parliament voted almost unanimously in favour of a decree that provides for them to be organised if 60,000 signatures can be found. Any referendum that is organised would be purely advisory in nature. However, advisory or not, a big majority in a referendum would be difficult for politicians to ignore.    

A region-wide referendum could come either at the behest of the Walloon Parliament or if 60,000 Walloons aged 16 and over sign a petition requesting that a referendum be organised. This can also be done online.   

Any referendum would have to be on areas of policy that fall under the remit of the region such as planning, the environment or housing. However, some areas of policy such as the budget and taxation are excluded. Furthermore, no referenda may be organised within 6 months of the elections.