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May 15, 2021

Chamber passes bill amending referendum law

At a plenary session on Tuesday, the Chamber of Deputies passed a bill amending and supplementing Law 3/2000 on calling and holding referenda, which provides that the referendum on reviewing the Constitution must take place on Sunday, namely the last Sunday of the 30-day period since the Parliament’s adoption of the reviewing initiative. The bill was initiated by 47 PSD parliamentarians.

According to the amendments brought to the Referendum Law, it is explicitly provided that the referendum must take place on Sunday, in the circumstances in which the current law leaves open the possibility to organize a plebiscite in any day of the week.

Specifically, the bill supported by the PSD senators consists in adding 4 paragraphs to Article 6 of the Referendum Law.

The bill mentions that the referendum on the revision of the Constitution must take place within 30 days of Parliament approving the revision initiative.

“The Citizens of Romania are called upon to express their will by voting in a national referendum on the revision of the Constitution, to be held no later than 30 days of the adoption of a draft or proposal for revision, in accordance with the provisions of Article 151 (3) in the Constitution of Romania. The Government shall decide on a date for the referendum and make it public immediately by means of mass communication,” reads the bill.

It also says that the draft Constitution as adopted by each chamber of Parliament or by a joint meeting of the chambers in case of divergences should be sent within two days to the Constitutional Court, which proceeds according to the law.

“Should the revision legislative initiative be found to exceed the limits of the revision, it shall be deemed incomplete and sent to Parliament for the procedure to resume.”

The bill was also adopted by the Senate, and the Chamber of Deputies is in this case the decision-making body, and the bill is to be promulgated by President Klaus Iohannis.

The PSD Senator Serban Nicolae says that the bill is necessary to clarify the law on the plebiscite. “In order to ensure a clear procedure to be applied to all the initiatives on reviewing the Constitution, this bill has been issued in the matter of organizing and conducting the national referendum that could be initiated, starting with the referendum that must be organized on the citizens’ initiative pending in Parliament”, shows the explanatory memorandum.

The members of the Lower House’s Judiciary Committee have adopted on Monday, with a majority of votes, a favourable report on the bill amending and supplementing law no.3/2000 on the triggering and holding of referendums. “The Constitutional Court won’t be notified at once, but within a period of two days after the Chambers or joint Chambers adopt the amendment bill. It goes to Court, in five days’ time [the Court] must decide – they would’ve took notice ex officio anyway, as soon as we had a say – whether it [the bill] surpasses the constitutional amendment limits or not. (…) If the limits were surpassed, [the bill] would return and the [Parliamentary] procedure would restart,” PNL’s Lower House member Ioan Cupsa said.

He said the Liberals asked for the two-day deadline for notifying the Constitutional Court – instead of “at once” – in order for the MPs that do not endorse the bill to be able to exercise the right to lodge complaints about the bill’s constitutionality or about the bill surpassing the limits of Constitutional amendments.

The Lower House adopted on May 9, with 232 votes in favour, 22 votes against and 13 abstentions, the citizens’ initiative to amend the Constitution’s definition of the family. Thus, according to the proposed amendment, Article 48, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution should read as follows: “The family is founded on the freely consented marriage between a man and a woman, on their full equality, as well as the right and duty of the parents to ensure the upbringing, education and instruction of their children.”

The Coalition for Family has collected 3 million signatures that it has lodged with the Senate alongside a proposal to amend the Constitution’s definition of the family, namely to amend Article 48, Paragraph 1, which refers to the family. In its current form, the said paragraph stipulates that “the family is founded on the freely consented marriage of the spouses,” however the signatories of the initiative want the definition changed in order to block any possibility for same-sex marriage to be enacted. Thus, the initiative stipulates that “the family is founded on the freely consented marriage between a man and a woman.”

According to Article 151 of the Constitution, the amendment bill or proposal must be adopted by the Lower House and the Senate with a majority of at least two thirds of the lawmakers. If an agreement is not reached through the mediation procedure, the Lower House and the Senate will decide the issue, in a joint meeting, with the vote of at least three fourths of lawmakers. The amendment is final once it is approved by a referendum held within a period of 30 days after the amendment bill or proposal is adopted.


Dragnea: I hope nobody will challenge the Referendum Law at CCR. We could have a decision on the family by the winter


PSD Chairman Liviu Dragnea stated on Tuesday that a timetable on organizing the referendum on the family matter can be set after President Klaus Iohannis will promulgate the law adopted on Tuesday by the Parliament, on the manner in which the bills on reviewing the Constitution are voted, estimating that, if there will be no appeals at the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) or other delays, we could have a decision by the winter.

“We have adopted an important law that completes the Referendum Law, namely the procedures on amending the Constitution, it was a legislative void, the initiatives on amending the Constitution by the citizens’ initiative had no procedure set by the law. With today’s adoption, of course, after the promulgation, we made one more step in order to organize the referendum for redefining the family in Constitution” Dragnea stated.

Asked about the term for this voting, he said that no timetable can be set until President Klaus Iohannis will promulgate the law.

“When he will promulgate the law, my colleagues in the Senate will adopt in the end the la amending the Constitution, and only then we will be able to estimate a timetable. Let’s hope there will be no problems at Cotroceni and the law will be promulgated. I hope nobody will challenge the law at CCR, there are no reasons, so that by the winter we will have this referendum, in order to let Romanian people tp express themselves” Dragnea also said.


PM Tudose about the referendum on revising the Constitution: I am definitely supporting it


PM Mihai Tudose stated on Tuesday at the Parliament that he is “definitely” supporting the referendum on revising the Constitution.

“Yes, of course”, PM Mihai Tudose said, asked if he will support the referendum on revising the Constitution.


PNL leader reiterates his position as supporter of the traditional family


National Liberal Party (PNL) chairman, Ludovic Orban stated on Monday, referring to the referendum on the definition of the family, that he is a supporter of the traditional family because, as a faithful man, he believes “this is what God established, this is basically the form in which we humans are called upon to settle in life.”

“The referendum is the completest form of democracy, in which citizens are called to endorse one point of view or another. On the other hand, I consider that, since the money is spent, a referendum should also be held on laying down in the Constitution the ban on switching parties at parliamentary level, I believe a referendum should be held on the citizens’ views on the ruling party’s proposals concerning the PSD and ALDE taking control of the judiciary. I believe citizens can be asked other questions too at this referendum, so that the money already paid would not be spent [sic] and the citizens would be consulted on several topics on which I believe they should express their views,” Ludovic Orban stated.

He reiterated his position as supporter of the traditional family, arguing that that is how God made man.

“I said I’m a supporter of the traditional family, as a religious man I believe this is what God established, this is basically the form in which we humans are called upon to settle in life,” the PNL leader explained.

PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Saturday evening, in Mamaia, that the party’s groups within the Senate and the Lower House have decided to hold the referendum this autumn.


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