Election of civil society CSM members postponed again

The Senate yesterday again postponed validation of two civil society representatives as members of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM). The decision was put off until Monday after Senators failed to reach an agreement on the order in which to validate the two representatives. One of the two (Corina Dumitrescu) has already been elected and needs only to be validated, but for the second seat, MPs have to pick one of five candidates. The five candidates have been already validated by the Senate’s legal committee.

Leaders of the Democrat Liberal and Social Democrat parties in the Senate, Cristian Radulescu and Ilie Sarbu demanded that MPs first vote to validate Dumitrescu’s candidacy, but their proposal failed to garner support. In his turn, the leader of the National Liberal Party group Puiu Hasotti accused ex Justice Minister Monica Macovei of having lobbied in favour of one of the five candidates for the second available CSM post. “I’m afraid that there is a political understanding on group level to vote for that candidate. This is obviously the consequence of a political agreement,” Hasotti said, according to Mediafax. Eventually, the leader of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, Fekete Szabo, proposed that the validation be postponed, a suggestion accepted by the majority of MPs.

The CSM has been working one member short under a special government order, after the Constitutional Court invalidated the appointment of civil society representatives and three other judges to the body. The court raised objections especially about Transparency International Romania leader Victor Alistar, saying that the civil society representative was incompatible with a position in the Council. Following the Constitutional Court ruling, Alistar and magistrates Lidia Barbulescu, Dan Lupascu and Dan Chiujdea were forced to leave the CSM.
The election of new Council members was heavily contested by parts of the legal system but also by the ruling coalition and President Traian Basescu after it was revealed that the three magistrates mentioned above had been re-elected for a second term although legislation bans them from serving two mandates. The controversial election was also criticised by the European Commission’s interim justice reform monitoring report, released in February.

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