How relevant is the CCR decision that declared the mayors' route unconstitutional

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has debated the emergency ordinance that temporarily allows mayors and heads of county councils to change party without consequences. Specialists point out that such a regulation has been declared unconstitutional in the past, but they admit that the parties can ignore the CCR's decision.

The decision would allow the mayors to migrate without consequences PHOTO Inquam Photos

The draft emergency ordinance put up for debate by the ministry led by liberal Cătălin Predoiu allows mayors and heads of county councils to change parties up to 60 days before the elections.

Article 33 of the project, paragraph (1), provides that “in 2024, the legal termination of the mayor's mandate under the terms of art. 160 para. (1) lit. h) from the Government's Emergency Ordinance no. 57/2019 on the Administrative Code, with subsequent amendments and additions, cannot be made in a period that is calculated starting from less than 60 days before the date of June 9 and until the date of entry into the exercise of the mandate by the elected mayor in the year 2024”.

Unconstitutional precedent

The representatives of the governing coalition justify the measure by saying that they would violate the Constitution if they did not act. On the other hand, a similar ordinance from 2014 that allowed local elected officials to change party 45 days before the election was declared unconstitutional at the time, but had already had its effects.

“The court cannot qualify the criticized emergency ordinance as a transitional, special, derogatory, suspension or time-limited rule, which leads to the conclusion that the Government opted for a sui generis legislative procedure, not provided for in Law no. 24 /2000, republished, with subsequent amendments and additions”, the CCR decided at that time, showing that thus it was not allowed to apply the provisions of law 393/2004 that lead to the loss of the mandate.

“Consequently, the Government, by adopting such an emergency ordinance, violated the rules of legislative technique and, implicitly, the provisions of art. 1 paragraph (5) of the Constitution”, CCR also scored at that time. The article in question from the Romanian Constitution provides that “in Romania, compliance with the Constitution, its supremacy and the laws is mandatory”. Moreover, according to the decision, paragraph (3) of the Constitution regarding the rule of law is also violated.

Contacted by “Adevărul”, the spokesperson of the PNL, Ionuț Stroe, claimed that it is “to enable people to run“. The same opinion was supported by the PSD representative, Lucian Romaşcanu, who stated that “this GEO has no similarity with the GEO since then“, explaining that the project gives the local elected official the possibility to run for another party, if the previous party no longer proposes him.

It would have restricted his right to be elected. And then it is normal to leave this possibility on extremely normal considerations and it is not any kind of encouragement of migration. If that mayor went all the way with the mandate, he could register to run if the elections were held on time. It is a compromise with individual freedoms and rights“, explained Lucian Romașcanu.

What the specialists say

Contacted by “Adevărul”, the former president of CCR Augustin Zegrean recalled the decision from 2014.

“They did something like that once before. (…) That ordinance was declared unconstitutional, but who cared that they left and that's how they stayed. He did not consider them to have lost their capacity as mayors or councillors. So the solution is declared unconstitutional since then. The Court did not return to that solution. (…) The sanction is the loss of the quality of mayor or local councilor. But until June, nobody will do anything. They will leave and take a new mandate at the party they fled to. There is no penalty, the only penalty was that of loss of quality. This decision is in contempt of the Law and the Constitution”pointed out Augustin Zegrean.

For his part, the political scientist Cristian Pîrvulescu pointed out that “political routeism is a problem of parties, and that's because people don't join a party for ideological reasons, but for other reasons, generally from clientelism, and the law we're talking about only does to continue, to develop clientelism”.

However, the analyst is of the opinion that local elected officials should have the opportunity to run for whichever party they want.

“Voters are the ones who vote, so they can raise a mandate, except when we are talking about crimes, the standard cases of losing the mandate, but not because they show a different attitude towards the party leadership, because it affects the freedom of decision of the person“, the political scientist also explained, pointing out that “parties are the ones that fail to keep their elected officials, that's why there is trasesism”.

Voting of citizens with another domicile, regulated

In order not to limit the right to vote, citizens can also establish their residence in the electoral district 60 days before, thus changing the 6-month term, but the wording is vague, not being clear if it is about both types of elections.

“In the elections of June 9, 2024, by way of derogation from the provisions of art. 18 para. (41) from Law no. 115/2015, with subsequent amendments and additions, citizens with the right to vote who established their residence in the electoral district less than 60 days before the election date will be able to exercise their right to vote only in the commune, city, municipality or subdivision administrative-territorial office of the municipality where they have their domicile”, provides the project.

The problem of diaspora voting

At the same time, PSD and PNL had agreed that the diaspora would have two days to vote, but according to the OUG, the elections will start on Sunday at 7 am and end at 10 pm for everyone.

The head of the liberal senators, Gabriel Andronache, explained to “Adevărul” that, according to some analyses, the extension of the vote was not necessary. “Analysis was done on all the lines of elections for the European Parliament and these analyzes showed that the turnout in the diaspora is not so massive as to require the organization of these elections in two days”Andronache explained.