MPs have worked a total of 316 hours during Parliament’s first sitting this year, the equivalent of 39 regular 8-hour workdays, and have a backlog of over 700 draft laws and legislative initiatives, according to the data offered by the websites of the Lower Chamber and the Senate, data quoted in a Mediafax analysis.
The first Parliamentary sitting this year started in February and ended at the end of June. In five months’ time the MPs worked a total of 316 hours. Based on the public sector’s regular 8-hour workday, it would mean that in the last six months the MPs have spent only 39 days debating and voting draft laws. However, the MPs spent some of that time making political statements and asking questions to the members of Government. Another 17 hours were spent by MPs taking part in 11 joint plenum meetings.
Senators were much more industrious than their Lower Chamber colleagues. Despite taking part in fewer plenum meetings, they registered more hours of debates. Thus, since the start of the year Senators have taken part in 58 plenum meetings, totalling almost 157 work hours (19 regular 8-hour workdays), while Lower Chamber MPs have taken part in 62 plenum meetings that totalled only 142 hours work hours (less than 18 regular 8-hour workdays).
On the other hand, Lower Chamber MPs also registered the highest number of plenum meetings suspended because of a lack of quorum or because the meetings were not attended by Government representatives in order to answer the MPs’ questions. Five Lower Chamber plenum meetings were suspended after less than 10 minutes, the briefest of them lasting only 1 minute and 44 seconds. Nevertheless, the all-time record was registered during the previous sitting when the Lower Chamber Deputy Speaker, Viorel Hrebenciuc at the time, suspended the works after just 23 seconds.
MPs also stood out through the number of holidays they took during this sitting. Apart from the three public holidays registered in the first 6 months of the year (Easter, 1st of May and Pentecost), the MPs also interrupted their work on the Catholic Easter and Catholic Pentecost, when they scheduled activities in their constituencies. For instance, the MPs took an extended 5-day holiday on Orthodox Easter, invoking the lack of quorum during Holy Week. The request to approve the arrest of UDMR MP Marko Attila was postponed back then, his colleagues not showing up in order to vote on the prosecutors’ request.
In the Senate, the Orthodox Easter and Catholic Easter holidays were linked up, so that Senators did not show up for work for well over two weeks. Senators also took time off on Catholic Pentecost, again in order to visit their constituencies. Because of this, Senators postponed once again the debate on the Dan Sova case, after the Constitutional Court’s decision concerning the non-constitutionality of the decision thanks to which the Social-Democrat had avoided preventive arrest. The Senate’s leadership should have asked for the point of view of the Judiciary Commission however that no longer happened because of the day off the Senators took.
On the other hand, Lower Chamber MPs wanted to introduce a special plenum meeting during this sitting, one dedicated to the Premier and the members of Government. The ministers or the Premier should have showed up before Parliament once per week in order to debate the problems they are faced with in their domains of activity. Although this measure was announced in January, during the five-month sitting Victor Ponta showed up only once within the Lower Chamber. In their turn, only three ministers took part in these meetings – the Agriculture, Health and Finance ministers.
Despite the hours spent within the plenum, the MPs have a significant backlog – over 700 laws are waiting for solutions from the Lower Chamber’s and the Senate’s special commissions in order to reach the final vote. Another 730 draft laws and legislative initiatives were voted within the Lower Chamber and the Senate, being either adopted or rejected.
Apart from their activities within the plenum, MPs also work two or three days per week within the special commissions. Within the Lower Chamber, the most active was the Judiciary Commission, with 57 meetings in the first sitting of this year and 368 initiatives debated, while the Commission for Equality of Chances was least active with only 18 meetings and 7 draft laws debated. Within the Senate, the most active was the Judiciary Commission, with 137 legislative initiatives debated, while the Commission for the Romanian Diaspora was least active with only 4 draft laws debated.