Social Democratic Party (PSD) Senators Ovidiu Dontu and Titus Corlatean (photo) have lodged with the Senate a bill on holding a national referendum on the amending of the Constitution, demanding its adoption in Parliament through an emergency procedure, News.ro informs. Liviu Dragnea has asked them to offer explanations and has stated that PSD does not support parliamentary elections and the referendum taking place on the same day.
Liviu Dragnea stated on Friday that PSD does not support holding a referendum on December 11, the date of the parliamentary elections.
He announced that he wants Senator Titus Corlatean and Senator Ovidiu Dontu to offer explanations and to take the bill off the table.
“PSD does not support the holding of a referendum on amending the Constitution on the same day of the parliamentary elections. I know it was a colleague’s initiative. PSD does not support this initiative for several reasons. The debate itself is a very profound one and the topic is very profound and I don’t want the debate and the discussions on the topic of this referendum getting mixed up with the elections campaign. Likewise, December 11 is an extremely important day for Romania’s future and I believe Romanians should have the possibility to discern (…) what each party must do. Mixing these two topics of debate is doing no good. The people, Romanians, should decide through a referendum, but not one held simultaneously with the elections,” the PSD President emphasised at a press conference.
The bill the two Senators tabled consists of three articles. According to the first, Romanians are called upon to express their will at the ballot box in a national referendum on amending the Constitution, to be held on the last Sunday of a 30-day period starting from the date the amendment proposal is adopted.
If the constitutional amendment bill is adopted by mid-November, the last Sunday of the 30-day period will be December 11, the date of the parliamentary elections.
The date of the national referendum will be publicly made known by the Government within three days since the law comes into force, through the Official Journal, the press, radio and television.
The second article of the bill stipulates that the persons who have the right to take part in the national referendum, the way the campaign will take place, the way the referendum is organised, the way electoral offices are organised and the prerogatives they will have, the acts that constitute misdemeanours and crimes and the way they are to be established and censured are aspects established by Articles 4 and 7, and Chapters IV, V and VI of law no.3/2000.
The result of the referendum will be established in line with Articles 5 and 7 of law no.3/2000.
The third article of the bill points out that the entire expenses will be covered from the state budget for 2016.
In their endorsement report the Senators who signed the bill point out that the organising of the referendum is regulated by law no.3/2000, which stipulates, in Articles 6 and 7 on constitutional amendment referendums, the obligation to establish by law the holding of such referendums.
“At the same time, law no.3/2000 requires the establishment, through a special law, of the object and date of the national referendum on amending the Constitution, in observance of Article 151 of the Constitution. The current bill has been drafted in order to observe this requirement,” the PSD Senators argue.
The sponsors of the bill propose its adoption through an emergency procedure.
What the Constitution says
Articles 150 and 151 of the Constitution address the procedure of amending the Constitution. Thus, the process can be initiated by the Romanian President at the Government’s proposal, by at least a quarter of Lower Chamber or Senate lawmakers, or by at least 500,000 citizens. The Coalition for Family has collected over 3 million signatures to amend the Constitution in the sense of defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
Citizens who demand the amending of the Constitution must come from at least half the country’s counties, and at least 20,000 signatures of support have to be registered in each of these counties.
The stakes of the referendum
The Senate’s judiciary commission unanimously adopted last Tuesday a report on the citizens’ initiative to amend the Constitution in the sense of redefining the family as a union between a man and a female. The amendment must pass a national referendum.
The bill has a single article modifying Article 48 of the Constitution, which addresses the composition of the family.
Last Wednesday, President Klaus Iohannis stated that the referendum on amending the Constitution should not be held on the same day as the parliamentary elections.
The citizens’ initiative was signed by over 3 million people.
The amendment bill or proposal must be adopted by at least two thirds of the members of both Chambers of Parliament.
If an agreement is not reached through the mediation procedure, the Lower Chamber and the Senate will decide on the matter in a joint meeting, with the votes of at least three fourths of the number of MPs.
The amendment is final after it is adopted through a referendum to be held within a 30-day period from the date on which the amendment bill or proposal is adopted.