POLITICS

President issues uninominal Parliament referendum decree

President Traian Basescu announced yesterday he signed the decree for the organization of a nationwide referendum over the reorganization of Parliament into a one-chamber assembly and reducing the number of lawmakers. The announcement was made at Cotroceni Palace starting 5 p.m., the head of state reading the two paragraphs of the referendum to be organized on November 22, along with the first round of the presidential elections. Two questions would be asked, one referring to a unicameral parliament, the second is voters agree with a parliament of 300 MPs or less.


The president made an announcement on Wednesday evening, on the same day Parliament rejected his letter calling for a referendum.


“It’s part of the failures of my first term, but this doesn’t make me lay down arms. I have the uninominal vote project, didn’t manage to convince parties and eventually held a referendum. I’m doing the same thing now,” he said on the public TV channel. The president called for the referendum on the same day with the presidential poll, on November 22.


When asked to comment on the fact that any changes enforced by referendum must be approved by Parliament, Basescu said lawmakers must take into consideration that under the Constitution, the people manifests its sovereignty through referendum. “And I wouldn’t want to think that lawmakers don’t respect the people’s will,” he added.


His letter to Parliament over the issue was rejected, by votes of the new majority, made up of the Social-Democrats, Liberals, Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania and the minorities. In spite of the vote, Basescu warned that he would nonetheless hold the referendum, as lawmakers’ approval is not mandatory.


MPs on Wednesday passed a unanimous endorsement of Sibiu Mayor Klaus Johannis for the prime minister position, a nomination Basescu doesn’t agree with. When asked to comment on the matter, he said that he was not impressed with lawmakers’ vote, even if they had had 50 or 100 votes more. He said that Johannis was always “Liberals’ man” and now has been embraced by PSD and UDMR as well. Moreover, he said the Sibiu mayor did not come up with any solutions to the current economic crisis, as a designated PM should do. As for his refusal to name Johannis and continue to back central bank expert Lucian Croitoru for the position, Basescu said he has the duty of giving Romania “the solution it most required at the moment.”


PNL files draft law to cut number of MPs


Meanwhile yesterday, PNL filed a draft law in Parliament, proposing that the number of MPs be cut from the current 471 to 316, PNL Deputy Eugen Nicolaescu said. He underlined that in order to change the number of MPs, no referendum is required, but a “simple change” in legislation. Under PNL’s draft, the Senate will have 217 members and the Chamber of Deputies will have 99.


Nicolaescu also criticized Basescu’s insistence to hold a referendum, saying that the current head of state is trying to win the election by using public money for the referendum, which is “immoral and discriminative” to other presidential runners.

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