“The Constitutional Court Notice of 2007 clearly states the President does not drop from the sky. (…) He has the backing of a party and as such remains on good terms with the party, in order to advance his agenda,” says Basescu.
After the latest conflict concerning the possibility of calling a CSAT meeting to assess the situation in Ukraine, the Prime Minister has found a new bone to pick with the President, as he expressed strong criticism against Traian Basescu for intervening in the electoral campaign for the May 25 EP elections in favour of PMP.
In context, the Premier announced, Monday night, at the Victoria Palace (the gov’t offices), that the Government will notify the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) about the President’s right to engage in the election campaign.
‘Considering the situation in the country, I decided, along with the relevant ministers, to suspend our involvement in electoral activities. Obviously, the election campaign continues, as stipulated by the law, however, our duty was first and foremost to step in where we have obligations and responsibilities as members of the Government. However, I want to call on the other persons holding public positions and directly on Romania’s President to stop getting involved in the election campaign,’ Ponta said, quoted by Agerpres.
He said that the Government would seek CCR’s opinion on whether there is a constitutional conflict between the President and the Executive, given that the Government is empowered by law to organize and conduct the election campaign: ‘To issue a ruling clearly saying that Romania’s President, as other categories of persons holding certain positions, does not have the right to engage in election campaigning and be actively involved. Based on the decision of the Constitutional Court, obviously, we shall take action accordingly’. Ponta explained, however, that certain categories of persons entitled to vote, in accordance with the Constitution and other laws, must not get involved in the election campaign: ‘A prefect or under-prefect or a senior public employee who gets involved in election campaigning is dismissed immediately.
A judge or prosecutor taking such action is excluded from the magistracy. An officer of the Romanian Army campaigning during the elections is immediately kicked out of the Army. All these citizens have the right to vote, but they are not allowed to campaign and to get involved in the election campaign. Romania’s President and the institution of the President of Romania has the same obligations as other categories and must comply with them in order to save the prestige and, after all, not only in terms of image, but also the constitutional obligations incumbent upon a president representing Romania as a whole’.
According to the PM, the notification to be filed with the CC will also enclose a statement made by former PDL leader and PM Emil Boc dating back to 2004, which mentioned that the President cannot become involved in another party’s electoral campaign.
On the other hand PSD Senator Mircea Geoana, called on President Basescu to get out of the ‘election campaign’, pointing out that Basescu, in his capacity as head of state, even at the end of his term, has a duty towards the country, and not to ‘political friends’. ‘The brutal involvement in the election campaign causes harm not only to the presidential position, but also to Romania’s credibility during the worst security crisis at Romania’s borders of the past 25 years, a period when Romania must show it is a pillar of stability, not a source of tension and conflict,’ said Geoana, according to a press release.
Basescu: I did not violate the Constitution
In an interview given yesterday to Gandul Live, President Traian Basescu categorically rejected the PM’s allegation that he had violated the fundamental law of the country. “I want to know precisely what Victor Ponta is referring to. He is plagiarizing the attempts made in 2007 and 2012 at impeachment,” the head of state said, as cited by Mediafax. He also pointed to the parameters of the political spectrum within which the president is allowed to move, as specified under Notice 1 of CCR from 2007, and to his right to opt politically, take part in political debates, and be supported by and remain close to a certain party. However, Basescu acknowledged that Article 84 of the Constitution clearly stipulates that the president cannot be the member of a party. Nonetheless, he went on, the only party currently supporting a state reform is PMP, also his political partner. When asked whether he or his family have contributed to PMP’s campaign, the President replied, “No, but I will, within legal limits. (…) I will donate this month’s salary to PMP.” “A President’s salary – RON 6,000 – is no small potatoes,” Basescu added.
As an explanation to the photographs in which he is seen wearing a T-shirt with the PMP logo alongside several PMP leaders, the President noted that the pictures were “taken on an official holiday imposed by the Gov’t” and posted on Facebook, not on campaign banners.
CC to rule on May 21
Romania’s Constitutional Court (CCR) will rule on May 21 the complaint from the Government concerning the President’s right to get involved in electioneering, Agerpres informs.
The President of the Constitutional Court of Romania Augustin Zegrean said, before the timeframe was set, that constitutional judges would discuss the notification of the Government referring to the right of President Traian Basescu to conduct an election campaign in the span of time stipulated by the law. ‘The notification of the Government was registered as a legal conflict of a constitutional character between the institution of the President and the institution of the Government,’ Zegrean told. He made it clear that CCR would solve this notification ‘as quickly as the law allows it.’ ‘I have not yet seen the file. In this situation of the conflict there are some terms established by our organization law. The term cannot be shorter than 20 days by any means as the law obliges me. (…) We shall solve as usual as quickly as the law and the dock of the Court allows us, which is very busy,’ he added.
Head of state: I would cast my ballot for Udrea, if she were to run for President
Traian Basescu said yesterday that he would vote for Elena Udrea, if she were to run for the Presidency of Romania. ‘If she would run, yes, I would categorically cast my ballot for Elena Udrea. I didn’t ask her if she would run,’ Basescu said. He stated that Udrea has ‘moral qualities’ and that she entered politics ‘with a very good material situation’: ‘I don’t know if she also has the strength to gather votes. Everyone has the right to nurture such an aspiration, whether we are talking of Predoiu, Elena Udrea, Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu or Victor Ponta. But they should get this position without owing someone like Voiculescu or the ‘barons’. Furthermore, the President admitted he is tempted to aspire to a PM seat, but he knows he would not be appointed because others have no desire for someone who knows so much. Yet if Elena Udrea were to win the presidential race, Traian Basescu continued, she would appoint him. In turn, Udrea declared herself “honored” by the President’s statement saying he would vote for her in the presidential elections because he is not in the habit of giving gratuitous compliments. “If the President of Romania supports a candidate, that candidate will undoubtedly be the best,” Udrea said further.