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January 25, 2022
POLITICS

Bucharest Court sends one-round mayoral elections to CCR: Constitutional Court to judge a journalist’s complaint

A Bucharest Court panel decided on Saturday to admit an exception of unconstitutionality raised over two articles of the local elections law, including the one that concerns the one-round mayoral election. The file will now go to the Constitutional Court.

Judge Luminita Calciu decided to send to the Constitutional Court an exception of unconstitutionality raised by an independent Bucharest City Hall candidate.

Bucharest Court’s decision comes within a trial initiated by the journalist, which filed his candidacy for the Bucharest City Hall as an independent, just in order to submit the unconstitutionality exception against the said law.

In his arguments, the candidate talked about the manipulation of the electoral legislation in favour of ruling parties, in the sense that the parties that overwhelmingly voted for this law also have the highest number of incumbent mayors, one-round elections clearly favouring incumbent mayors over the other candidates.

 

Liviu Avram, independent candidate for Bucharest City Hall:“I wanted to show that no matter how large a parliamentary majority is, it has to submit to justice”

 

Journalist Liviu Avram filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR), stating that he wanted to show that a parliamentary majority has to submit to justice no matter how large that majority is.

He explained that he filed the intimation because “I found the rules imposed by the parliamentary majority to be unfair in a democracy.”

“I hope the CCR would take into account the arguments I brought and would rely on previous decisions. (…) I find the high number of signatures [needed] for the Bucharest City Hall to be an excessive measure. 25,000 signatures were required to form a party, this being an excessive interference with the right to associate. I am being asked for 18,000 signatures. The effort is similar. I have reason to believe that the CCR will bring under regulation this excessive number too. Electing the mayor in a single round and the number of signatures is a mechanism of manipulation on the part of the ruling parties, it lowered the elected mayor’s representativeness below the standard,” Liviu Avram stated for Realitatea TV.

 

 “I was outraged by the manner in which the whole political class approached the issue of the mayors’ elections in one tour”

 

Journalist Liviu Avram stated on Saturday for Mediafax that Bucharest Court decided to send to CCR his complaint on the exception of the law articles regarding the necessary number of signatures for an independent candidate and the organization of the local elections in one tour.

“In the pronouncement (on the Saturday court session – e.n.), the court asserted that it will notify CCR on the unconstitutionality exception of the Article 50, 2nd par. (Law no. 115/2015 – e.n.) and of the Article 101, 2nd par.; thus I understand that the court observed that the article related to the election of the mayors in one tour would be also unconstitutional. CCR has the final decision “, stated Liviu Avram, journalist at “Adevărul”.

“I was outraged by the manner in which the whole political class approached the issue of the mayors’ elections in one tour, so I had to create a judicial framework in order to be able to bring this matter in the front of CCR, since I’ve noticed that President Iohannis didn’t do it, though he had the power and the reasons to do this. So I looked upon a law article which could be contested as soon as possible after the electoral mechanism starts, in such a way that CCR will have time to issue a decision until the moment of the elections, and the law will be amended”, stated Liviu Avram.

Thus, Liviu Avram filed his candidacy for the position of a General Mayor of Bucharest, submitting a list which contains only three sustaining signatures, and this action allowed him to draw the attention of CCR on the Article 50, 2nd par. (Law no.115/2015  e.n.), asking in the same complaint the extension of the CCR’s control on the Article 101, 2nd par., related to the mayors’ election in one tour.

“I found also grounds of unconstitutionality in the provision which requires a specific number of signatures for the independent candidates. I concluded that 18.000 signatures are required for Bucharest and I used the CCR’s decision on February 2015 as a precedent, saying that to require 25.000 signatures for setting up a party is an excessive requirement. The Parliament acknowledged that decision, saying that a party can be set up based on three sustaining signatures only. Having the model of what the Parliament decided, I submitted my candidacy for the General Mayor of Bucharest with only three signatures, being the only legal issue which I could use in order to prove that 18.000 is too much, as well as 25.000, because both the situations involve a similar logistic effort”, explained Avram.

“That was the exception that I directly submitted, since that was all that could be done at this electoral moment, but I demanded the extension of the CCR control on the election of the mayors in one tour, within the same trial, on the ground that the candidates are asked to fulfill very restrictive requirements at the submission of the candidacy, but the same law decreases the representation criteria for the winner under the constitutional standard. Through this exception I prove somehow that the election of the mayors in one tour does not provide representative mayors, as the Constitution requires”, explained the journalist Liviu Avram.

He said that the PNL approach on raising the exception of unconstitutionality of local elections in one tour was “misdirected”.

 

Gorghiu: CCR has to ignore the pressures for a single tour

 

PNL Co-Chair Alina Gorghiu welcomed on Saturday the Bucharest Court’s decision admitting the unconstitutionality exception on the local elections law, subsequent to the notification of a journalist, criticizing the non-unitary courts’ jurisprudence and encouraging CCR to ignore the pressures.

“I welcome the Bucharest Court’s decision admitting the unconstitutionality exception on the local elections law, but I can’t refrain myself to notice the non-unitary jurisprudence of the Romanian courts, in the context of the same law”, stated the PNL Co-Chair Alina Gorghiu on Facebook.

Alina Gorghiu asked CCR to ignore the pressures for the vote in a single tour, stating that the electorate has the right to know about this decision before the elections take place.

“At the same time, I am asking the Constitutional Court to ignore the pressures which are growing in this moment for the vote in a single tour and judge with celerity the unconstitutionality exception which has been admitted by the Bucharest Court. The Romanian electorate has the right to know about this decision before the elections take place” also wrote Gorghiu.

 

PNL’s intimation on two-round local elections rejected by court. Liberals to appeal decision at High Court of Justice

 

The Bucharest Court of Appeals rejected on Friday the complaint filed by the National Liberal Party (PNL) on the topic of two-round local elections. The ruling is not final.

PNL announced that it took note of the Bucharest Court of Appeals decision to refuse to forward to the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) the intimation concerning the unconstitutional character of one-round local elections and will appeal the decision at the High Court of Justice (ICCJ), however the Liberals admit that there no longer are chances of success and are asking voters to cast a useful vote on June 5.

“We hope that the desideratum of returning to the formula of two-round mayoral elections would be attained as soon as possible and we would thus reach Romanian society’s moment of maturity. The current norm, which we deem unjust, has to be corrected as soon as possible by the current Parliament or in the future legislative sitting,” a PNL press communiqué shows.

According to the aforementioned source, the PNL demarche sought to obtain a clear answer from the only institution that has the prerogative to give it, namely the Constitutional Court, in what concerns the situation currently permitted by the electoral law.

“A mayor can win the tenure with the vote of a minority and exercise it despite the distrust expressed at the ballot box by a majority of voters. Thus, the situation in which the tenure is given to a candidate that benefits from the support of less than half plus one of the voters that voted is casting justified doubt on that mayor’s legitimacy and representativeness,” the Liberals argue.

PNL also points out that maintaining the current form of the law throws a shadow of doubt on the June 5 elections. “From this point of view, we express our regret about the impossibility of obtaining a justified answer about the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the way in which mayors are elected, a shadow of justified doubt remaining over the June 5 elections as a result.”

 

Vasile Blaga: We are prepared for one-round elections too

 

PNL Co-chair Vasile Blaga stated for Mediafax on Friday, in the context in which the court rejected PNL’s intimation about local elections, that the Liberals will appeal the court’s decision, if there is a way of doing so, stating that PNL is prepared for one-round elections too.

“We never commented a court decision. We respect it. We will see whether we still have a way of attack. We will discuss with our jurists and we will see what has to be done. If there is a way of attack [we are considering it ],” Blaga said.

Vasile Blaga added that the Liberals are prepared for one-round local elections too, stating that the Liberals resorted to this demarche in order to boost the representativeness of local representatives.

“We are prepared for one-round elections too. We made this demarche bearing in mind the representativeness of those elected because they can be elected with a small percentage, against the backdrop of low voter turnout, and this gives them small representativeness in relation to the citizens in the localities they will manage,” Vasile Blaga added.

On February 12, PNL filed a complaint with the Government’s General Secretariat through which it notified it that they will attack the Government Decision that established the date of local elections.

The PNL demarche is the only procedural way still at the party’s disposal in order to raise the issue of the local elections law, namely of the fact that they are to have a single round. The law is in force and can be attacked at the CCR only as part of a lawsuit or directly by the Ombudsman.

After the complaint was filed in court, PNL Co-President Alina Gorghiu pointed out that despite the scepticism expressed by some, there is sufficient time for the administrative court to send the file at the Constitutional Court, in order for local elections to have two rounds.

 

 

 

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