At the start of yesterday’s meeting of the National Permanent Bureau (BPN) of PSD, Prime Minister Victor Ponta announced the Parliament’s priorities in this new session, listing among others the bill draft on repealing Art. 276 of the Penal Code and the bill draft on restructuring the STS.
The PM asked Robert Cazanciuc, Minister of Justice, also present at the meeting, to see whether further clarification is needed with regard to the Penal Procedure Code. In addition, Ponta stressed it is imperative for the revised Constitution text to be finalized in the first week of parliamentary session.
As a result of recent migrations from PPDD to other government groups, the ruling Social-liberal Union (USL) is now in a unique position within the post-1989 Parliament. According to an analysis carried out by stiripesurse.ro, the union made up of PSD, PNL, PC, and UNPR has a much more comfortable parliamentary majority, which even exceeds the National Salvation Front’s (FSN), founded by Ion Iliescu and Petre Roman. After the 1990 elections, 76.47 per cent of senators in the Senate and 66.4 per cent of senators in the Chamber of Deputies were from FSN. At the moment, USL has a 77.8 per cent majority, a percentage which will increase once other senators from Dan Diaconescu’s party migrate over to UNPR.
On the first workday, the joint Parliamentary Commission on Revising the Constitution has resumed its activity by meeting with workers’ association representatives. Amendments drawn up on the basis of observations and suggestions brought up by the Venice Commission and the Legislative Council were also presented. As far as we know, some of the initial provisions under the Constitution revision bill draft were to be re-discussed, amended, or even taken out. The Parliament should pass the new bill draft no sooner than April 24, considering that the referendum on revising the Constitution may be held in late May, at the same time as the EP elections.
However, MPs got off on the wrong foot, as PDL representatives left the debate yesterday, after the proposal to resume discussions regarding all articles from the fundamental law, so as to align the text of the law with the referendum and the observations and suggestions made by the CC and Venice Commission, was denied.
Yet members of the Commission have adopted the proposal to exclude the article which defines state powers by referring to the Government, Parliament, ICCJ, and courts of law, but not the President of Romania, from the Constitution amendment bill draft.
According to PNL chairman Crin Antonescu, USL has not decided whether the referendum on revising the Constitution will be held over the course of two days. He stressed that the statements previously made by Union leaders referred to possibilities, not certainties. “The referendum date is to be established by the Parliament, in accordance with the Referendum Law. We have not reached this stage yet; we are only at the beginning,” Antonescu said, as cited by Mediafax.
On the other hand, PSD leader Ilie Sarbu claims it has been “agreed upon” that the referendum will be held in a single day, concomitantly with the EP elections, although the Parliament could be subject to changes. The day before, Antonescu stated he wants all Constitution amendments to be revised and the revised bill draft to be sent to the Government this week, after which it will finally be sent to the Venice Commission.
Other unsolved matters…
Other priorities for this parliamentary session include making a decision on the legislative initiative which enables certain sentences to be subject to amnesty and pardon. The initiative was excluded from the Chamber of Deputies’ agenda late last year due to numerous critiques on several amendments adopted by the Legal Commission, by which infractions punishable by up to six year’ imprisonment could be subject to amnesty and infractions punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment could be subject to pardon. According to the initial legislation, amnesty applied to four-year sentences and pardon applied to seven-year sentences.
Furthermore, senators and deputies are scheduled to discuss the Penal Procedure Code amendment in coming days, so as to allow technical surveillance before criminal proceedings are initiated. PM Ponta said on Monday that Government will amend on Wednesday the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, only if matters not requiring public debate are invoked. Senators from the three specialized commissions – the Administration Commission, the Defense Commission, and the Legal Commission – will have to reach a decision within four days after resuming their parliamentary activities. The plenum will also have to reach an agreement concerning the Government’s controversial bill draft to amend Emergency Ordinance 195/2002 on public road traffic, a draft which runs the risk of being tacitly adopted under the Executive’s proposed version.
The Calarasi Parliamentary Commission will continue its investigation into the purchase of farmland in Nana village by the Basescu family. One of the persons who will be called in for a hearing in this case is Adrian Radulescu, Presidential adviser. Additionally, several queries in the Senators’ Commission report on the activity of CEC Bank, which was finalized in the last session, are to be clarified. MPs are also scheduled to appoint the new Board of Directors and Board of Directors’ Chairman of SRTv.
Elections for EP on May 25, presidential elections on November 2 and 16
The elections to the European Parliament this year will take place on May 25 and the two ballot rounds for the president election, on November 2 and 16, the data for the referendum for the Constitution amendment going to be set by Parliament, Prime Minister Victor Ponta announced on Sunday, after USL meeting. He also said that Parliament established the data of the referendum for the Constitution amendment.
31.5 pc of Romanians would cast votes in EP elections, Constitutional referendum
A share of 31.5 per cent of Romanians say they will definitely cast their votes in the elections to the European Parliament and the Constitution referendum, reveals a survey conducted by INSCOP Research, quoted by Agerpres. According to the cited survey, when asked if they planned to cast their votes in the elections to the European Parliament, organised at the same time with the Constitution referendum, 24.1 per cent went for the ‘probably yes’ choice, 20.9 per cent chose the option ‘I have not decided yet,’ 9.1 per cent said ‘probably not,’ 8.4 per cent opted for ‘definitely not,’ and 6 per cent did not know or did not want to answer.