Social-Democrat Ioan Chelaru, the Senate’s Deputy Speaker, was unanimously elected on Monday as Chairman of the Lower Chamber and Senate’s joint commission on the drafting of the law on amending the Constitution. He was appointed Chairman after that position was vacated as a result of Crin Antonescu’s resignation.
Mate Andras (UDMR), Valeria Schelean (PNL), Daniel Fenechiu (PP-DD) and Bogdan Ciuca (PC) remain deputy chairmen of the commission, while Florin Iordache (PSD) and Varujan Pambuccian (ethnic minorities’ group) continue to be its secretaries.
After the favourable vote obtained from his colleagues, Chelaru expressed his hope that the parties represented within the commission will collaborate well. “I hope we will collaborate well. We have started the commission’s works under what I would like to believe is a propitious spectre, that of political consensus. I don’t believe a future amending of the Constitution, a project we propose, can be an extremely serious and viable project for the Romanian society if it does not obtain political consensus. Don’t forget that the two thirds have to be obtained in the Senate, in the Lower Chamber, as well as at the referendum, based on the new referendum law,” Ioan Chelaru stated.
Valeria Schelean, PNL’s representative within the joint commission’s permanent bureau, stated that the joint commission’s Liberal MPs voted in favour of Ioan Chelaru as chairman in order for the principle of symmetry in appointing the chairmen of Parliament’s joint commissions to be respected.
“The vote was unanimously in favour of appointing Mr. Ioan Chelaru chairman of this commission, considering that Mr. Voicu, our Liberal colleague, has taken over as chairman of the Electoral Code Commission. Thus, all PNL colleagues, members of this commission, voted in favour of Mr. Chelaru. In what concerns the Commission’s Bureau, its membership has remained unchanged,” he pointed out.
According to the agenda proposed by the new chairman, the draft Constitution will enter the Senate’s debate in June, in the hope that it will be adopted by the end of this Parliamentary sitting. Then in September the amended Constitution will enter the Lower Chamber’s debate, the hope being that it would be adopted there in October. After its adoption in the Lower Chamber, the draft will be sent to the Constitutional Court, which has a 5-day deadline to issue a report. According to stiripesurse.ro, the referendum is held within 30 days after the Court makes its corrections. According to the road map, the Constitution could be amended in November 2015.
Victor Ponta: ‘There should be a referendum this year, unless PNL changes tack’
Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Monday said that the constitution revision process should be completed this year, but an impediment in the National Liberal Party (PNL) may be represented by rallying around the position of the former Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) to oppose the amendment of the fundamental law.
“There is a somehow odd issue here, in that we have somehow agreed on all the texts with our Liberal colleagues, but then there were some articles that the Constitutional Court (CCR) or the Venice Commission rejected. Theoretically, we could complete the process in a week, unless the Liberals change tack and what they said last year is no longer valid this year. (…) Theoretically, there is an absolute majority, unless the Liberals had a change of heart. Since they became PDL, they might have embraced the PDL’s opinions, because in 2013-2014 PDL was the only opponent to the constitution’s revision; PNL might now rally around PDL’s position. That is the only impediment I could think of. Otherwise, this year we should have even a referendum,’ Ponta told journalists at the Senate at the end of a meeting of the ruling coalition.
He emphasised that his Social Democratic Party (PSD) is sticking to its guns as far as amending some constitutional articles goes.
“We have not changed an iota of what we recommended in 2013 and 2014, with the exception of those articles that cannot be included because of the opinions of the two extra-parliamentary institutions,” said Ponta.