The referendum for rephrasing the constitutional definition of marriage was invalidated.
21.1% of the citizens with the right to vote, namely 3.9 million people, participated in the referendum on rephrasing the definition of “family” in the Romanian Constitution, as being based on the freely consented union between a man and a woman, and not between spouses as stipulated at present. According to final data provided by the Central Electoral Bureau, 91.5% of those who went to the polls in the 2 days of voting, on Saturday and Sunday, voted for the modification, but the turnout was much below the threshold needed for validation, namely 30% of the eligible voters.
After a rather short campaign ahead of the referendum, which was verbally violent mainly on social networks, as many as 80% of the voters chose to boycott the vote. The reasons were quite diverse. Some didn’t even know what the referendum was all about, some were indifferent, and some others wanted to express their opposition to the ruling coalition or to the majority Orthodox Church that got involved in the referendum pleading for redefining the concept of family. The bill for the revision of the Constitution had been voted in Parliament and was based on a citizens’ initiative signed by 3 million people. Many have blamed the Social Democratic Party, the main party in the governing coalition, for the failure of the referendum.
The Social Democrats argued however that the result of the referendum was not their own failure, as, according to the law, the party only ran a public information campaign. On the contrary, the leader of the National Liberal Party in opposition blames the power for the failure of the referendum, given that there was no proper information campaign, the purpose of the ruling coalition allegedly being to make the Romanians uninterested in the referendum. The Save Romania Union Party, which opposed the ballot from the very beginning, was happy with the result. The MozaiQ Association, a defender of sexual minority rights, said that through the low vote turnout, people rejected hatred and discord and did not endorse a political act meant to stigmatize and discriminate against the LGBT community.
Immediately after the referendum results were made public, the minister delegate for European affairs, Victor Negrescu announced that a bill would be submitted in Parliament in the coming weeks that should regulate civil partnership. The bill has been discussed with civil society representatives and political parties, Negrescu said, although many were surprised to hear about it in the public space.
Towards a new pensions law in the Romanian public system.
The Romanian government on Wednesday approved a new bill on the public pensions system, to be soon forwarded to Parliament. Labor minister Olguta Vasilescu said no pension would be diminished after recalculation, the standard retirement age and the contribution period would not change. The new bill is meant to increase pensions and eliminate imbalances in the system. Under the new bill, pensions will be calculated according to a person’s contribution, and pensioners with equal contribution periods, but who retired at different times, will receive the same amount of money. The future law is to be applied in stages up until 2021, when the law will take full effect. The law will benefit more than 5 million Romanian pensioners.
Also this week, two members of the leftist government took the heat of the parliamentary opposition: the economy and culture ministers. Economy minister Danut Andrusca walked away unsanctioned as the Chamber of Deputies rejected the simple motion against him filed by the Save Romania Union and the National Liberal Party. The Liberals claim that the incompetence of the economy minister and his catastrophic activity will harm Romania. The Liberals also tabled a simple motion against the culture minister George Ivascu whom they accuse of being unable to manage the December 1, 2018 celebration, when 100 years will be marked since the creation of the Romanian unitary state.
Looking for a new head of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate.
The prosecutors’ section of the Superior Council of Magistracy has this week given a negative opinion on the proposal of the justice minister to appoint Adina Florea as chief prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate - DNA. The opinion is consultative. Previously, justice minister Tudorel Toader had announced that he would forward his proposal to the Romanian President irrespective of the opinion of the Superior Council of Magistracy. During the hearing, Adina Florea stated that the secret protocols concluded by the Romanian Intelligence Service with other institutions, which have been made public recently, went beyond the legal framework, as mixed operative teams were set up.
She also added that the main activity of the DNA was not to investigate case of abuse of office, which should be dealt with by prosecutor’s offices attached to courts, but to investigate high and medium level corruption cases. We recall that the position of head of the DNA became vacant in July, when Laura Codruta Kovesi, was dismissed. Also this week, justice minister Toader announced that the government approved an emergency decree which renders operational the Section investigating crimes within the judiciary. The section will take over from the DNA, by October 23, all files related to magistrates, including those solved in the past.
Romania seen by the IMF.
The IMF has revised its estimates regarding Romania’s economic growth rate in 2018, from 5.1% forecast in spring to 4%. The IMF experts believe that the downward trend will continue next year as well, up to 3.4%. The figures have been included in the latest IMF report on world economy, in which the Fund estimated a global economic slowdown. In Romania, the National Institute of Statistics announced that the annual inflation rate in September dropped slightly, to 5.03% from 5.1% as reported in August. In early August the National Bank of Romania revised the end-2018 inflation rate down to 3.5%.