Activity in Parliament paralyzed by opposition strike

During yesterday’s assembly meeting in the Chamber, the opposition accused the ruling power of taking a final vote on several bills in defiance of quorum regulations and announced it would challenge the laws thus adopted at CC.

Although the Parliament resumed its activity over two weeks ago, there seem to be very few MPs hard at work in the assembly or committees as, the opposition’s strike aside, even the ruling coalition seems to have trouble getting its MPs mobilised. At the same time, the Democrat-Liberal Party (PDL) accuses the opposition’s MPs of collecting their wages although they do not attend the proceedings and is printing out posters exposing the “truants” in the Social-Democrat Party (PSD) and the National Liberal Party (PNL).The final vote on 47 bills debated last week in the absence of the opposition was held yesterday in the Chamber of Deputies, which boasted an attendance of 168 deputies according to the Speaker of the Chamber Roberta Anastase. However, about 25 Social-Democrat MPs were present in the hall, up in the balcony, where they protested vehemently, booing and accusing the deputies of taking a vote without a quorum. “You don’t have a quorum, you thieves!” the Social-Democrat deputy Adrian Solomon was crying out in a speaking trumpet, arguing he had counted only 157 deputies in the hall. As a consequence, the final voting session was checked by calling the roll, to avoid any suspicion concerning the vote on the respective bills. The Chamber secretary, Liberal MP Mihai Voicu, stated subsequently that, after voting on three bills, only 161 deputies had remained in the hall, which is to say the quorum was lost. PDL group leader Mircea Toader argued that the quorum was established by calling the roll and not every deputy was forced to vote on a bill, but counted as present when establishing the quorum. Mihai Voicu announced that, under present circumstances, the opposition would consider contesting all the bills adopted during this session at the Constitutional Court (CC).A dispute broke out during the session between the ruling coalition and Social-Democrat MPs up in the balconies. The PDL deputy Gheorghe Tinel called on Roberta Anastase to take measures against the Social-Democrat MPs in the balconies on the grounds they were causing a commotion. In response, Marian Neacsu (PSD) argued they were all deputies exercising their mandate. “I ask you to take the necessary measures as this is not a stadium, a sports arena. Let us maintain a decent environment, fit for a debate, even if the opposition chooses to absent itself from the debate,” Tinel stated. “The commotion in the hall proves you have a problem with the fact there are more deputies in the balconies than in the assembly hall,” Social-Democrat Neacsu replied. “Let us keep the proportions, there are considerably fewer in the balconies, but a lot noisier. Let us focus on the proceedings and get over this moment, which is harmful to both the power and the opposition,” Anastase argued, trying to restore some peace. PDL deputy Elena Udrea qualified, in turn, the Social-Democrat MPs’ presence in the balconies as “a flippant attitude”.

Playing truant, yet collecting their pay?

On the other hand, the ruling coalition deputies claim that, although they skip the Chamber’s sessions, the striking opposition MPs covertly sign the attendance register so as to collect their RON 100-pay per session, on top of their RON 4,000-wages. According to “Evenimentul Zilei”, 98 opposition MPs signed the attendance register during last Tuesday’s assembly meeting. The list of Social-Democrat deputies who signed the register includes, according to the aforementioned source, Viorel Hrebenciuc, Victor Socaciu, Constantin Nita, Bogdan Niculescu Duvaz, Carmen Moldovan, Claudiu Manda and Manuela Mitra, while the Liberals’ list includes ex-minister Teodor Atanasiu, Alina Gorghiu, Radu Stroe, Horia Uioreanu and Sergiu Andon. In response, the opposition representatives invoked various reasons, arguing that their protest did not include a refusal to sign the register or that they had other activities in the Legislative, such as backing political speeches made from the stand. The Social-Liberal Union (USL) co-president Victor Ponta explained on Monday that MPs who had signed the attendance register would donate the session pay thus collected. “This was our initial decision for the Chamber: we would not attend the assembly and committee meetings, but would continue to make political speeches, interpellations, queries concerning a deputy’s direct activity in relation to the college he/she represents,” Ponta argued, quoted by Mediafax.


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