POLITICS

The 30 pct threshold in the referendum passed the final vote

The lower Deputies’ Chamber at a plenary sitting yesterday rejected the Romanian president’s request of re-examining the law on organizing and conducting a referendum, thus passing the bill in its original form, which calls for at least 30 percent of the Romanians registered on the electoral rolls to turn out in order for it to be declared valid. President Traian Basescu had filed a re-examination request in which he required a turnout of at least half plus one of the voters on the electoral rolls. Thus, the modified referendum law stipulates two requirements for the poll to be valid: at least 30 percent turnout and at least 25 percent valid ballots, with both percentages relating the number of the persons on the electoral rolls. The MPs adopted the project with 223 votes “for”, 72 votes “against” and 23 abstentions, PDL announcing that voted against. The bill foresees that the referendum is valid if it participates in at least 30 percent of the persons registered on the permanent electoral lists. Gheorghe Tinel (PDL) said in the Parliament’s court, after voting this bill that PDL MPs voted against because they believe that “at the moment the young democracy needs a majority vote.”
Also yesterday, the Chamber of Deputies adopted, on articles, the referendum law that reduces the voting attendance threshold to 30 percent. The MPs set, adopting a new article, that the bill shall take effect one year after its publication in the Official Gazette (Monitorul Oficial). The Chamber of Deputies is the decision-making body on this bill. The Senate rejected, on September 3rd, the demand of President Traian Basescu to review the law regarding the organization of the referendum. The president urged the Parliament on July 11th to review the referendum law which foresees the validation of the referendum of at least 30 percent voting attendance and quorum of the validly expressed votes of at least 25 percent, the reason being that in this form a sufficient representativeness is not ensured. On May 29th, the Chamber of Deputies passed with 221 votes “for”, 73 votes “against” and 2 abstentions, the draft law on lowering the voting attendance threshold of 30 percent at the referendum.
The legislative initiative, signed by Valeriu Zgonea, Florin Iordache, Eugen Nicolicea and Bogdan Ciuca modifies the referendum law into reducing the voting attendance threshold for this type of election from 50 percent to 30 percent, and also into introducing a voting requirement of 25 percent of voters to validate the results.
The opposition attacked the law at the Constitutional Court, and the Court ruled that the enactment is constitutional insofar as it is not applicable to referendums organized within one year since the entry into force of the law.

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