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October 20, 2021

Smaller Parliament starting in 2016

The leaders of political parties have reached an agreement on the new parliamentary elections law. According to the agreement, the members of the new Parliament will be elected on party lists and the number of MPs will stand at around 457, but that figure could undergo changes following the talks within the electoral code commission.

Thus, the Lower Chambers will have 308 MPs elected in Romania, 4 elected abroad and 17 MPs representing ethnic minorities. The Senate would have around 126 MPs elected in Romania and 2 elected abroad. The details of representation within the Senate will be finalized by the electoral code commission, the premise being that every county should have at least two representatives within the Senate. The members of the electoral code commission will decide the number of Senators that Bucharest and more populous counties should have.

The Parliament formed as a result of the 2012 elections consists of 588 MPs, particularly because of the possibility that a constituency can be represented by several MPs as a result of the redistribution of votes.

In a 2009 referendum 88 per cent of the participants chose to lower the number of MPs to 300. On the basis of that referendum, in 2012 the Constitutional Court (CCR) rejected an electoral law precisely because it stipulated a number of MPs that surpassed 300. At that time, the CCR judges explained that although the referendum was consultative that only means that the result did not come into force right away like in other kinds of referendums, not that Parliament has the right to ignore the will of the people, Realitatea TV informs.

Another controversial article concerns the number of MPs elected abroad, which stands at only 6. Sebastian Lazaroiu, former presidential aide to Traian Basescu, warned that there are around 3 million Romanians living abroad, namely one sixth of the electorate, but they will receive only around 1.6 per cent of the seats in Parliament. According to the former presidential aide’s calculus, around 60-70 seats should be allocated for the Romanians living abroad.

Likewise, the draft law stipulates the return to party lists, a system used until 2008, and the total elimination of the uninominal vote. The uninominal vote was the object of a referendum too, a referendum in which most participants voted in favour of the uninominal vote although the voter threshold needed for the referendum to be validated was not reached.

During the talks, the Social Democrats came up with the proposal for the voters that want to cast their ballots to register six months before the elections. The Liberals agreed with the proposal but they did not accept the idea that the right to vote should be conditioned by the presence in the electoral registry, Realitatea TV informs. Thus, they asked that a citizen that did not register should be able to vote nonetheless, the registration being useful for the government to establish the number of voting centres.

The agreement was reached by political leaders following talks that took place on Wednesday within the office of Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea. The talks were attended by PSD President Victor Ponta, Liviu Dragnea, the PNL Co-Presidents, UDMR President Kelemen Hunor and PC President Daniel Constantin. The draft will be finalized next week within the electoral code commission and the political leaders decided that it should be put up for the final vote by the end of the parliamentary sitting.



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