Constitutional Court axes electoral law amendment

The emergency decree changing the country’s electoral law a couple months before the municipal elections – initiated by the Liberal government of Ludovic Orban – is unconstitutional, the justices of the Romanian Constitutional Court (CCR) have ruled.

The disputed 26/2020 decree included modifications that allowed Romanian citizens to vote anywhere in the country, not only in the constituency in which they resided, and doubled the number of parliamentary representatives and senators representing Romanian citizens living in the diaspora. Also, the decree shortened the time frame of the overall election process from 90 days to 50 days; this was the time allowed for initiating and processing the elections.

The emergency decree was brought to the attention of the CCR by the Romanian Ombudsman, Renate Weber. On February 21, the Ombudsman signed a letter to the CCR citing three paragraphs in the Romanian Constitution that the government decree went against. It was in fact just one of the two dozen emergency decrees the Liberal government passed on the night before it was ousted.

“In accordance with paragraph (6) of article 115 of the Constitution, emergency decrees cannot be passed in the field of constitutional laws, the working of the fundamental institutions of the state; the rights, freedoms and obligations enshrined in the constitution, electoral rights and [material] goods cannot forcibly be taken into state property,” Weber wrote in her letter.

Several parties, including the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, known by its Hungarian acronym of RDMSZ, voted against the change in the electoral law, while the Liberal and USR parties supported the change, which paved the way for early elections.

Title image: Judges of the Romanian Constitutional Court. (source: ccr.ro)

Author: István Fekete