Zegrean: We will not change the electoral practice from one day to another
Local elections’ destiny was decided on Wednesday by the Constitutional Court (CCR), only two days before the official start of the electoral campaign.
Constitutional judges have rejected unanimously a challenge of some provisions of the Law on local elections, including those stipulating the single-round election. Thus, the electoral law remains unchanged and local elections are going to take place in a single round tour, namely on June 5.
Although the National Liberal Party (PNL) has voted in Parliament the law on the organization of the elections in a single round, lately it made efforts before the court to challenge the law in front of CCR. Yet, their efforts weren’t successful, but the case was on the CCR judges’ table because of a journalist.
“Article No.50 was rejected as unfounded, because no argument was brought to justify the changing of the CCR practice in this matter. It is a wide practice in this regard. The Court always said that Parliament is the one who establishes the electoral law, the modalities, the signatures, the absence of signatures. In fact, Venice Commission also says there isn’t any problem, the right to elect or to be elected is not violated by requiring some signatures”, CCR President Augustin Zegrean explained, after the Court’s decision.
He said that the referral on the Article No.101 was rejected too, because this article is not related to the case submitted to the Court judgment. “In this case, the Court has to decide on the possibility which the author of the exception has, namely to candidate or not, depending on the signatures he had to submit. So it doesn’t pronounce on the electoral law as a whole”, CCR President stated.
When asked if the elections on June 5 will be held in a single round, Zegrean stated that, in the view of CCR, they will take place in one round.
Earlier, CCR President Augustin Zegrean was stating, after the designated prosecutor demanded the rejection of the challenge submitted by the journalist Liviu Avram on the local elections matter, that CCR remains in pronunciation and it will announce its decision later.
“Madam Prosecutor, we remain in pronunciation and we will pronounce the decision today”, announced CCR President after the designated prosecutor demanded rejection for the referral of the journalist Liviu Avram.
The designated prosecutor stated that the author of the exception wishes to change the legislative solution included in this legal provision, and this exceeds CCR’s atributions.
The designated prosecutor also stated that the ordinary legislator is the only one who is sovereign to establish the electoral system and its limits.
In the CCR’s session, President Augustin Zegrean has interrupted the speech of the journalist Liviu Avream, stating that “we are risking to declare that the American voting system is unconstitutional”.
Journalist Liviu Avram justified his approach by making references to the voting systems in Great Britan and USA, stating that he is doing this because the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Valeriu Zgonea, stated that there is no country to have the voting system as the one proposed by Avram.
“Well, Zgonea was rejected from the party”, Zegrean commented, in the CCR session.
Before the Court’s meeting, Augustin Zegrean underlined that CCR doesn’t change laws, it only says if they are constitutional or not.
“We don’t change laws, we only say if they are constitutional or not. We don’t say that they have to apply today or tomorrow, or at the future elections. We did it once (at the referendum – e.n.), because we wanted the request of the Venice Commission to be considered”, Zegrean answered when he was asked if the possible law changes will enter into force starting with the local elections on June 5.
“Constitutional Court just pronounced today, I don’t think we will change anything tomorrow. We have more 30 cases submitted until today, having almost the same object, but I am sure we will not change the practice from one day to another”, Zegrean highlighted.
CCR President before the Court’s decision: “Some people are betting on today’s decision”
At the entrance in CCR, President Augustin Zegrean was asked by the journalists if the elections in one tour are constitutional.
“Some people are even betting on the decision we will pronounce today”, answered Augustin Zegrean.
Zegrean briefly explained what representativeness means, implying that the elections in a single tour would not break the principle of representativeness stated in the Constitution. “Representativeness means the best of the participants in elections”, explained CCR President.
Zegrean also talked about the recommendation of the Venice Commission not to change the electoral law less than a year before the elections.”They said not to change the electoral law less than a year before, but I am not sure if this would be a change affecting the elections. Venice Commission says that every state is free to choose its own voting system”, Zegrean stated.
When asked if the Venice Commission’s recommendations are mandatory, CCR President answered: “You care about the recommendations, or about directives?”
Liviu Avram: The main argument of my approach was the representativeness of the elected people
Journalist Liviu Avram, the one who requested and obtained the CCR judgment on the local elections in a single tour, arrived at the Constitutional Court on Wednesday morning. He explained that his main argument is the representativeness of the elected people, a principle which is stated in Constitution.
“The law doesn’t let the citizens to have a representative mayor, as the Constitution demands. Everybody runs away from this word. Constitution says that the elected bodies through which people exercise their sovereignty must be representative. This is what I am bringing to the attention of the Court, namely the extent to which, by this manner, elections do create representative mayors or not”, Liviu Avram stated.
PSD’s Firea: We have taken note of the CCR decision; the Court’s decisions are not subject of discussions
“We have taken note of today’s CCR decision. CCR’s decisions are not subject to be discussed. I hope everybody understands this and that new debates and political fights will not start. In the last weeks, it was too much talked about legislative and political issues and too little about the problems of the Bucharest citizens. I hope that, on the occasion of this CCR’s decision, all the candidates to come back to the citizens’ agenda. I repeat my suggestion that I made last week to all my opponents, namely a Decalogue for Bucharest, a set of 10 concrete solutions for the Bucharest people and for their families, with a great chance to meet the consensus. I invite them to assume these solutions, so that at the end of this campaign, regardless which of us will be General Mayor, they can be applied in the benefit of the citizens”, stated the PSD candidate for the Bucharest City Hall, Gabriela Firea, for stiripesurse.ro.
Journalist Liviu Avram’s challenge, accepted by Bucharest Court on April 16
On April 16, Bucharest Court accepted the challenge of the journalist Liviu Avram regarding the exception of the provisions of the law related to the needed signatures number for an independent candidate and to the organization of the local elections in a single tour, deciding to send it to the Constitutional Court.
Bucharest Court’s decision comes within a trial initiated by the journalist, who filed his candidacy for the Bucharest City Hall as an independent, just in order to submit the unconstitutionality exception against the said law.
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.), related to the needed number for the candidates to apply, asking in the same referral the extension of the CCR’s control on the Article 101, 2nd par., related to the mayors’ election in a single 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.
Liviu Avram also said that he asked for the extension of the CCR control on the elections of the mayors in a single tour, stating that the independent candidates have to fulfill hard requirements of representativeness, while the law decreases the representativeness criterion under the constitutional standard for the ones who will be elected.
“Within the same procedure I demanded the extension of the CCR’s control also on the election of the mayors in a single tour, on the ground that we, the candidates, are asked to fulfill very hard requirements of representativeness at the moment we apply for the candidacy, but the same law decreases the difficulty under the constitutional criterion of representativeness for the one who will actually be mayor. Somehow, within this exception I am proving that the election of the mayors in a single tour does not create representative mayors, as the Constitution demands”, also explained the journalist Liviu Avram.
The journalist succeeded to obtain the judgment of the law at CCR, when a day before, the Bucharest Court of Appeal just rejected another complaint submitted by PNL on the organization of the local elections in two rounds.