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February 8, 2023

Constitutional Court rejects USR and PNL challenge on Referendum Law

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) rejected USR and PNL’s notification regarding the amending of the Referendum Law, so that the legislative act will go to promulgation.

The notification was lodged by the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Save Romania Union (USR) after President Iohannis sent the law back to re-examination but the law was once again adopted by Parliament.

On April 4, the USR announced that, together with PNL and PMP, it will once again notify the Constitutional Court about the unconstitutionality of the law amending and supplementing law no.3/2000.

In USR’s opinion, PSD is manipulating the public opinion and is using the citizens’ initiative to modify the Constitution in the sense of redefining the family as a pretext to adopt a bill that eliminates some of the Romanian President’s prerogatives.

“Let it be very clear: PSD is using the pretext of the citizens’ initiative to modify the Constitution in the issue of regulating the family in order to modify the Referendum Law, which was a very correct law in our view, and to cut some of the President’s prerogatives. One of the mechanisms that the PSD has been using for one and a half years is that of weakening all other institutions in the hope that through the Government and Parliament they can move toward the manner of governing seen in Poland and Hungary. Basically, it is an attack on the rule of law by using the issue of the referendum on [the definition of] family,” USR President Dan Barna was stating.

“The text that the Senate has adopted and that was proposed for adoption within the House too, is, just as the Romanian President has also noted, unclear and deficiently drawn up. It is unacceptable for us to adopt such texts in the Parliament of Romania, because they will be used in all referendums that will take place in the future,” USR House lawmaker Stelian Ion stated.

The notification lodged with the Constitutional Court claimed, among other things, that the terms “the draft constitutional law” and “adopted by each Chamber of Parliament,” terms included in the law sent for promulgation, are unclear and run contrary to Constitutional exigencies regarding the quality of the law. In the opinion of the signatories of the notification, the text of the law also has other terms or wording that is unclear or imprecise.

PNL and USR notified the Constitutional Court about this bill at the end of last year too. The bill initially stipulated that the date of a referendum on amending the Constitution should be established by the Government. The notification was unanimously admitted, and the bill went back to Parliament to be set in line with the CCR decision, after which it was sent to be promulgated by the President, who asked that it be re-examined.

The national referendum on the amending of the Constitution takes place on the last Sunday of a 30-day period starting on the date Parliament adopts the legislative act amending the Fundamental Law, and the Government is to make the date public, this was what the Senate decided on March 26 when it rejected President Klaus Iohannis’s re-examination request.

On April 4, the re-examination request was rejected by the Lower House too, which adopted the legislative act in the form in which it was sent to promulgation.

On April 18, President Klaus Iohannis announced he will not promulgate the Referendum Law in the form in which it arrived at the Presidential Administration, pointing out that he intends to notify the CCR.

“The Referendum Law, as it has reached me now, will not be promulgated. I have certain discontents regarding this law and I will ask for the Constitutional Court’s opinion,” Iohannis said at the time.




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