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December 3, 2021

Senate marks 150 years of existence, President Basescu absent

PM Ponta proposes that former heads of state should be senators-by-right, considers the acting president’s absence abnormal.

The Romanian Senate celebrated yesterday, in a solemn meeting, 150 years since its establishment, the event being attended by former Romanian presidents Ion Iliescu and Emil Constantinescu, but not by acting president Traian Basescu, who was not invited by the Speaker of the Senate. Also present were Premier Victor Ponta, government representatives, BNR Governor Mugur Isarescu, former Senate Speakers, members of the Constitutional Court, Patriarch Daniel, Princess Margareta, as well as members of the diplomatic corps.

Former President of Romania Ion Iliescu said in his address to the solemn session celebrating the Senate’s 150th anniversary that “the Senate and the Lower Chamber are not meant to tirelessly roll out laws.”

Ion Iliescu underscored that the Senate, since as early as its establishment, has had the role of ‘moderation, arbitrage and toning down the other state institutions’. He added he is not in favour of a single-chamber Parliament. ‘I opposed and oppose the plans to dismantle the Senate under the pretext of making the system more efficient. Democracy is not a stock company. One cannot analyse it the way one analyses a limited liability company. To say that we dismantle the Senate and cut the number of lawmakers for reasons of saving budget funds is the best proof of refusing democracy’, he stressed.

The former president insisted there is the need to simplify the legal framework so that the citizens might get to know the laws approved by Parliament to a greater extent. ‘The Senate and the Lower Chamber are not meant to tirelessly roll out laws, they do not have a production quota for legislating. Much of the Romanians’ dissatisfaction comes from over-legislating (…), the Honorary President of the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) stressed. On the other hand, Iliescu said he would not comment the refusal to invite President Traian Basescu to the solemn session. ’He (Traian Basescu) probably voiced a point of view like we would be saving money, what’s the point of having so many Chambers, what’s the point of so much parliamentarianism, it was simpler with the Great National Assembly, it convened twice a year for one day and that was its entire function,’ said the former chief of state.

In his turn, Former Romanian president Emil Constantinescu stated that the Romanian Senate should enhance the role of its committees, especially for the control of subordinate institutions; he was speaking at the solemn sitting on the Senate’s 150th anniversary on Monday. ‘The Senate has to develop the role of senatorial committees, on the model of the United States. I think the role of these investigation and control committees on other state institutions and on abuses should become stronger in our society. The experience of scientific, cultural, and religious personalities, such as the pre-war era senators-by-right should be used,’ said Constantinescu. The former head of state also mentioned that citizens and rulers should be equal before the law, and the laws passed by the parliament should therefore be clear and firmly applied. ‘My main mission as a president was to restore the rule of law. I won’t claim a sweeping success, but I have tried to prove that power can be obtained and used fairly and legally, abiding to the rule of law. Supremacy of law, not of groups of interest needs a system with clear laws, firmly applied,’ he concluded.

Senate Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu said he deeply regrets the fact that over the past few years ‘we had to witness an attempt to disband the Senate.’ ‘I deeply regret that in recent years we had to witness an attempt to disband the Senate. An extensive propaganda apparatus making abstraction of the national interest, the historic experiences of the Romanian state and the opinions of the Romanian and foreign experts was activated to this end, a media campaign dominated by strong populism instrumentalizing a still precarious knowledge of national traditions among a segment of citizens culminated in 2009 with a referendum on disbanding the Senate,’ Tariceanu said in his address to the solemn Senate session.

Former Senate Speaker Mircea Geoana stated that President Traian Basescu is not present at the Senate’s solemn meeting because of the failure of the “experiment” that saw the introduction of the president’s five-year term, which means excessive power and then accelerated decline.

PDL President Vasile Blaga criticized the refusal to invite the Head of State to the Senate’s anniversary, stating that the decision is profoundly wrong, that it is not becoming of the Senators, warning at the same time that today Parliament and political parties are sharing the last places when it comes to the people’s confidence. He pointed out that unless this changes the shred of evidence still left will be gone too.

Present at the event along with Prince Radu and Prince Nicolae, Princess Margareta stated that the Royal Family and the Romanian Senate stood side by side for almost a century and a half. Former Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu stated on Tuesday at the Senate’s solemn meeting that Romania has had four major political institutions, namely the Senate, the Lower Chamber, the monarchy and PNL.


Ponta: Basescu will want the Parliament to have two Chambers next year


Premier Victor Ponta stated at the Senate’s anniversary ceremony that he is convinced President Traian Basescu will reassess his position and in 2015 will consider that it is good for there to be two Chambers of Parliament that would limit the government’s excess of power. “I am convinced that starting next year acting president Basescu will consider that it is good for there to be two Chambers of Parliament that would limit the government’s excess of power and I believe that every time too much power is concentrated in the government’s hands the Parliament’s and Senate’s role is fundamental in keeping that balance for which it was called the balancing Chamber,” Ponta said.

He thus deemed that President Traian Basescu’s absence from the ceremony marking 150 years since the establishment of the Senate represents an abnormal situation, pointing out that he wants this kind of moments not to repeat after December.

The Prime Minister also stated that in his view Romania’s former presidents should be senators-by-right. “I believe that the need to have in Parliament former representatives of the highest state institutions will surely lead to the enhancement of the prestige that the Senate has before citizens and together we can do these things apart from the electoral battle that sometimes occupies far too much of our time,” Ponta argued. At the same time, the Head of Government stated that the current situation in which public personalities are asked to give up on everything they did in order to hold a Senate seat is absurd and exaggerated, pleading for mending it.


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