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March 20, 2023

Constitutional Court rejects Sorin Grindeanu’s challenge against no-confidence vote

The Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) rejected on Wednesday, as inadmissible, the challenge lodged by Premier Sorin Grindeanu, in which he complained that the secrecy of the ballot was not respected during the no-confidence vote of June 21, a fact that led to a conflict of a constitutional nature between the branches of government, given the no-confidence motion’s effect on his Cabinet.

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu complained to the Constitutional Court that some MPs voted the no-confidence motion while displaying their ballots, which runs counter to the stipulations of the Lower Chamber and Senate’s joint regulations, which explicitly stipulate that secret voting is to be used in the case of no-confidence motions.

“The exercise of the MPs’ mandate must be characterised, among other exigencies, by the observance of the principle of legality and good faith, by expressing the vote in strict concordance with the interests of the electorate that offered the MP’s mandate and with the MP’s own conviction,” Grindeanu wrote.

He claimed that the regulations he invoked should contain supplementary stipulations that would deal with the situation in which the secrecy of the vote is not ensured. “I consider of interest the possible supplementation of the regulations concerning the joint activities of the Lower Chamber and Senate, with norms that would stipulate a revote in case the concrete unfolding of parliamentary procedures does not observe the regulatory provisions,” the document reads.

Premier Sorin Grindeanu argued that failure to respect the secrecy of the ballots during the vote on the no-confidence motion that resulted in the ousting of his Government generated a conflict of a constitutional nature between the branches of government, given the motion’s effects.

“Without demanding the annulment of the no-confidence motion, I ask you to examine the conditions in which MPs voted on this motion and to impose Parliament to observe, in the future, the constitutional and legal provisions on ensuring the secret character of the vote cast by MPs,” reads the notification he had sent to the Constitutional Court.

Referring to the notification that Sorin Grindeanu lodged with the Constitutional Court of Romania, on the issue of the secrecy of the no-confidence vote, Liviu Dragnea pointed out that “secret ballot is an option.”

“I believe the secret ballot is, after all, an option you use or you don’t. Voting in Parliament has taken place both via secret ballot and via open ballot, I believe the vote is important, I believe a person has personality, and there were people with great personalities, they voted the opposite way, also via open ballot. (…) I don’t have Mr Sorin Grindeanu’s constitutional training, hence I’ve asked the Constitutional experts and the legal experts from Parliament and they will draft the material to the CCR,” the PSD leader stated.

Grindeanu reacted to Dragnea’s comment, in a Facebook posting. “I see Liviu Dragnea believes one must be a constitutionalist to know that the vote at the no-confidence motion is a blackballing vote! Well, no! You only have to have a modicum of respect for the law! As party president, Liviu Dragnea’s preoccupation shouldn’t be to sit on the stairs at the no-confidence motions against his own Government, in order to verify how MPs vote,” the ex-Premier wrote.

Sorin Grindeanu claimed that “maybe Liviu Dragnea wants to ask whether they use the open ballot system in Brazil.”

“To threaten your own MPs, to set up checkpoints at the vote, to force them to show the ballot which, from a constitutional standpoint, is secret – all of this is inadmissible. That is why I’ve notified the CCR. So that this would never happen again,” the ex-Premier concluded.

The no-confidence motion was a topic brought up by the Opposition too, also on July 5. The joint standing bureaus of the two Houses of Parliament rejected back then the proposal made by PNL, USR and PMP to include on the order of the day their request on the setting up of a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the no-confidence vote that ousted the Grindeanu Government.

The request for the setting up of a parliamentary committee of inquiry was signed by PNL, USR and PMP parliamentarians who claimed that video recordings show that the no-confidence motion was voted by only 249 MPs, but 251 ballots were found in the urns.

“We consider that a clarification of what happened is normal, of how that vote that led to the ousting of a Government and the confirmation of another Government was possible and, likewise, to see what can be done so that such situations won’t be repeated. I don’t believe Parliament’s image stands to gain by maintaining this state of doubt as to whether the vote was rigged, or not, right within Parliament’s joint plenum, in the presence of dozens of video cameras,” USR Senator Mihai Gotiu stated.

“Unfortunately, they stalled and procrastinated the discussion on and then the putting up for debate, within the joint plenum, of the setting up of this committee of inquiry for which we’ve also collected the necessary number of signatures – 120 – from the parliamentary groups of the USR, PNL and PMP,” he added.




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