The judges of the Constitutional Court (CCR) unanimously decided on Tuesday that the legislative initiative for reviewing the Fundamental Law belonging to Save Romania Union (USR), called “No convicts in public offices”, observes the constitutional provisions.
The Court checked if the USR’s citizen’s initiative meets the technical requirements, namely the number of signatures, and if the citizen’s action observes the limits of the Constitution. After CCR’s decision issued on Tuesday, the initiative will go through the parliamentary proceedings and will later be subject to a referendum on reviewing the Fundamental Law.
On September 21, 2018, USR submitted to the Parliament the second part of signatures for the initiative “No convicts in public offices”, namely over 780,000 signatures, thus fulfilling the requirements provided by the law in order to launch a referendum, namely 500,00 signatures from 21 counties.
The initiative “No convicts in public offices” proposes that Article 37 of the Constitution, which regulates the right to be elected, should be complemented with a new paragraph with the following content: “Citizens who are subject to a final sentence establishing punishments that involve deprivation of liberty for intentional offenses, cannot be elected in the local public administration bodies, the Deputies’ Chamber, the Senate and as the Romanian President, until a situation that removes the consequences of the conviction occurs”.
The Constitution currently provides in Article 37 as follows: “(1) Citizens having the right to vote who meet the requirements provided by Article 16 paragraph (3), have the right to be elected, if they are not banned from associating in political parties, according to the Article 40 paragraph (3). (2) The candidates must have turned at least 23 until the election day, inclusively, in order to be elected in the Deputies’ Chamber or in the bodies of the local public administration, they must have turned at least 33 to be elected in the Senate, and at least 35 to be elected as the Romanian President”.
PNL welcomes the CCR’s decision on the citizens’ initiative to amend the Constitution in the sense of banning convicted persons from being elected to public office
National Liberal Party (PNL) First Vice President Raluca Turcan has stated that the PSD-ALDE parliamentary majority will not adopt the USR’s “No lawbreakers in public office” bill amending the Constitution; however, the Liberals will insist on having two PNL bills on the same topic adopted by the House.
“The criminally convicted have no place holding public office! The PNL welcomes the CCR’s decision on the citizens’ initiative to amend the Constitution in the sense of banning convicted persons from being elected to public office. We demand celerity in the parliamentary procedure so that by the end of the legislature we would have at least one vote in one of the Chambers of Parliament, so that we would avoid the risk of seeing the bill closed at the end of the legislature. The PNL is the party that tabled in Parliament, as early as November 2017, two bills making it impossible for criminally convicted persons to be elected into the Romanian Parliament or as President of Romania. These two bills received a favourable report from the Legislative Council, which did not point to any risk of unconstitutionality,” Raluca Turcan wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
She added that persons who have been criminally convicted must be banned from holding public office and invited the political parties to support the demarches in Parliament.
“Given that amending the Romanian Constitution requires a two-thirds parliamentary majority, which PSD and ALDE are most likely unwilling to provide, the PNL will insist on the two bills being put to the vote, bills that are already being debated by the House as the body that has the last say. One way or another, we must have in force this ban regarding the criminally convicted. The PNL will put in the service of this initiative all the votes it has in the House and Senate. We expect all parties that want to remove felons from the public space to join our demarche,” PNL’s House whip concluded.
Ciolos states Parliament will reject the “No lawbreakers” initiative: I harbour no illusions
After the Constitutional Court (CCR) decided that USR’s “No lawbreakers” initiative is constitutional, PLUS leader Dacian Ciolos said that he harbours no illusions that Parliament – “led by someone who received a final criminal conviction” – will adopt the bill.
“The CCR’s validation of the bill amending the Constitution so that criminally convicted persons would no longer be able to hold public office is excellent news. More than one million Romanians have signed for this initiative, hoping for a better Romania. It is now Parliament’s turn to vote, with a two-thirds majority in each Chamber, for the amending of the Constitution,” Dacian Ciolos posted on Facebook on Tuesday.
The ex-Premier added that this is a first step in the direction of putting an end to the era of “lawbreakers.”
“Although it would be an opportunity for parliamentarians to prove their good faith, I harbour no illusions: a Parliament led by someone who received a final criminal conviction and by an ex-Prime Minister who has been running away from the start of a criminal probe for the past five months, hiding behind his parliamentary immunity, will reject this bill. Or, even more cowardly, will postpone it indefinitely. Now we need to mobilise and replace them, to make sure that the thing that society wants can also be enforced. It’s an extra step to clean Romania of thievery and to make room for honest and competent people. The citizens’ initiative will follow its course. The era of “lawbreakers” in politics is nearing its end,” Ciolos concluded.