Across the entire European Union, people cast their vote for the European Parliament elections, however, in Romania, a secondary vote was also being cast, for a referendum for justice.

The turnout was very high, seeing 41.28% for the referendum vote and 49% for the European Elections vote, without including those votes cast abroad.

The Referendum on Justice

The referendum was initiated at the request of Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, as a measure to prevent further changes to justice laws and criminal codes.

The ruling coalition’s parties attempted to boycott the referendum by requesting its supporters not to participate, and this serves as an explanation as to why the turnout was lower than the EU Parliamentary elections.

The two questions asked in the referendum were, whether they agree to ban pardoning and amnesty for people convicted for corruption and whether they agree to forbid the Government from changing essential legislation in the justice sector by emergency ordinance, which has been the focus-point of some of the most controversial topics in Romania in recent years.

Some background:

PSD came into power in December 2016, and almost immediately after their election, changes to the justice laws and criminal codes were made.

The result of these changes, sparked some of the largest protests Romania has seen since the original fall of communism in 1989.

Most of these changes were seen by Romanians, as an attempt to retain corrupt practices, protect corrupt politicians from jail time, including PSD leader, Liviu Dragnea.

The Results

The highest turnout for the polls were in Western Romania, where typically voters are generally recognised as being “anti-PSD”. This was one sign which could indicate a significant defeat for the current ruling coalition.

Referendum Turnout

Ilfov
48%
Cluj
47.8%
Sibiu
45%
Bucharest
41.8%

Ilfov, is a small county which surrounds Bucharest had the highest turn out, followed by Cluj county, Sibiu, Brasov, Salaj and Bihor.

Referendum Results

Do you agree with the prohibition of amnesty and pardon for corruption offenses?
YES:
80.9%
NO:
13.8%
INVALID:
5.3%
Do you agree with the ban on the Government’s adoption of emergency ordinances in the field of crimes, punishments and judicial organisation and the extension of the right to appeal directly to the Constitutional Court?
YES:
81.1%
NO:
13.5%
INVALID:
5.3%

More than 80 percent of voters responded YES to both questions, with invalid votes representing just over 5 percent, according to the provisional results reported by the Central Electoral Bureau (Biroul Electoral Central).

What’s happened next?

President Klaus Iohannis took to Facebook, congratulating the population, saying “Dear Romanians, you are fantastic! I congratulate you! You participated today in great numbers at the EP elections and the referendum. You have given a clear vote, a firm vote, a vote that cannot be ignored by any politician in Romania. Thank you!”

He also criticised PSD for the way that they had organised the the elections abroad, which seen very large queues. Thousands of Romanians in the Diaspora (ethnically Romanian population outside Romania and Moldova) waited for hours at the polling stations to cast their votes in the EU elections on Sunday, May 26 and many of them were not able to vote.

He also indicated, that the party’s score, which was much lower than at the parliamentary elections in December 2016, were an indicator that “The PSD government must leave. This result can’t be interpreted in any other way.”

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