The Constitutional Court has unanimously rejected on Tuesday the two notifications filed by former Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea concerning the modifications brought to the Chamber’s Regulations and the procedure used to dismiss him from office.
The first notification concerns the amendments brought to the Lower Chamber Regulations, which stipulate that the Speaker can lose his office automatically after he loses political support and that the dismissal request can come from the parliamentary group that nominated him, not just from the group whose member he is.
The second notification concerns the Lower Chamber decision through which the office of Lower Chamber Speaker was vacated, a decision based on the amendments that Valeriu Zgonea deems unconstitutional.
The first deadline was June 21, however the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) postponed the debates in order to better analyse the case, according to CCR sources.
On June 13, Valeriu Zgonea was dismissed from his position as Lower Chamber Speaker and member of the Standing Bureau, as a result of the fact that he lost political support from PSD’s parliamentary group.
Augustin Zegrean announces solution in Zgonea case before Court ruling: “Read previous decisions”
Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) judge Augustin Zegrean stated on Tuesday that the Court’s jurisprudence is clear in what concerns the Zgonea case, referring to the previous cases of Geoana, Blaga and Anastase, who challenged their dismissal from the offices of Lower Chamber and Senate Speakers. Those challenges were rejected.
“If you’ve read the Court’s decisions, anyone who did so can foresee the decision (today – editor’s note). There were several cases, several Lower Chamber and Senate Speakers who ended up being in similar situations and who, one way or the other, ended up at the Court. We ruled each time, we offered solutions that were no longer challenged,” judge Augustin Zegrean stated before the Court meeting that was about to discuss the two challenges filed by former Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriuz Zgonea.
Zegrean refers to three similar situations – the Mircea Geoana, Vasile Blaga and Roberta Anastase cases. Former Speakers of the Senate (Geoana and Blaga) and of the Lower Chamber (Anastase), they were dismissed before their terms expired and asked the CCR to reinstate them. CCR judges rejected their appeals.
Thus, after he was dismissed from the office of Senate Speaker, in November 2011, Mircea Geoana asked the Court to declare the decision unconstitutional. “In what concerns this constitutionality challenge (Art.33, Par.2 from law no.96/2006), the Court notes that it is groundless. (…) The Court notes that Decision no.53, dated 23 November 2011, which takes note of the rightful cessation of Senator Mircea-Dan Geoana’s statute of member of the Standing Bureau and Speaker of the Senate (…) does not violate constitutional provisions. (…) Rejects the constitutionality challenge,” the CCR judges ruled in Mircea Geoana’s case.
Vasile Blaga and Roberta Anastase appealed to CCR after the USL tempestuously dismissed them in July 2012. “The Constitutional Court can rule on Parliament decisions “that affect constitutional values and principles.” (…) The Court notes that, given the object and juridical effect of such a decision, the dismissal of the Lower Chamber Speaker does not affect constitutional values and principles,” the judges ruled, rejecting Roberta Anastase’s challenge.
The judges adopted a similar stance in Vasile Blaga’s case too, pointing out that the Senate decision that dismissed Blaga cannot be subjected to constitutional control since it does not fall within the sphere of parliamentary acts on which the Court can rule, being “a juridical act that has an individual character, that does not affect constitutional values and principles.”
“The Constitutional Court cannot become an arbiter of political conflicts in Parliament, cannot censure the political choices of a majority of lawmakers when it comes to electing the Speaker of a Chamber, the leadership or members of each Chamber’s Standing Bureau or of any other working bodies, nor does it have the role of a court of appeals that solves disputes or disagreements between persons who have the capacity of lawmakers. These actions represent political expressions which, although they take the form of juridical acts, lack a normative character, in the sense that they do not contain widely-applicable juridical regulations with a juridical effect that is general or circumscribed to a determined category of legal subjects, but represent juridical acts that have an individual character and a political goal, their object consisting of nominations, elections or validations in office, the replacing of one person with another, in line with statutory procedures, and cannot represent an issue of constitutionality that the Constitutional Court would be required to settle,” the judges wrote when rejecting Vasile Blaga’s notification.
Judge Augustin Zegrean publicly talked about Valeriu Zgonea’s dismissal from the office of Speaker of the Lower Chamber before too, one month before the dismissal took place. Asked in a talk-show on May 8 whether Zgonea can be dismissed although he is no longer member of the PSD group, Zegrean answered affirmatively: “Yes, if the regulations say so. The group that nominated him could have nominated someone from a different group, someone who was not a member of that group. So a parliamentary group could very well have nominated as Speaker a lawmaker that was not member of their group, nobody could have stopped it. It’s not an interdiction. They’ll say this is prejudgment. I hope it will arrive when I’m no longer there,” Augustin Zegrean stated back then.
The official order of the day includes Valeriu Zgonea’s challenge against the decision to amend the Lower Chamber’s Regulations and to dismiss him from the office of Speaker of the Lower Chamber.