Family referendum facts a day before. How do the political parties and their leaders position themselves?

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Over 18 million Romanians are expected to the polls for the family referendum on Saturday and Sunday. The referendum is set to amend the Constitution in order to redefine marriage as being a free consent union between a man and a woman, not as it is currently stipulated as a union between spouses.

Voters are called to answer „Yes” or „No” to the question: „Do you agree to the Law amending Romania’s Constitution in the form adopted by the Parliament?

There will be 18,662 polling stations established countrywide, with 1,264 of them in Bucharest. Romanians living abroad will be able to vote in 378 polling stations: 192 of them will be upon Romania’s  diplomatic missions, consular offices and cultural institutes based in those countries, while another 186 in other locations. Most of the polling stations abroad will be in Italy (58), Spain (48), Republic of Moldova (35), USA  (32), UK  (19), France (15), Germany (14).

The polling stations will open every day on Saturday and Sunday at 7 a.m. and will close down at 9 p.m.

Citizens who have the right to vote and are in other locality than the one of residence can cast their votes in any polling station in the country based on his/her ID card.

The family referendum has been asked by the Coalition for Family following 3 million signatures. The citizen initiative has been passed by the Parliament.

According to law 3/2000, the national referendum needs a turnout of at least 30pc of the voters and the outcome is validated if the options represent at least 25% of those registered to vote on permanent lists.

The results  will be centralised by the Central Electoral Bureau and then will be sent to the Constitutional Court within 24 hours, under military guard.

CCR will have to draft a report if the procedure on the referendum has been met and confirm its result and then will send the report to the Parliament.

Pros/cons and boycotting

The referendum has been an intense topic since the Parliament has given its go-ahead, with pros and cons voiced by the supporters and opponents camp. Many voices have endorsed the idea of boycotting the referendum, on the ground it is not a real, necessary topic and that there is no need to spend so much money (almost EUR 40 million) on an issue which is not legally valid anyhow.

On the other hand, political parties argued they are not involved in promoting the referendum and that they will remain unbiased, however footage broadcast by the mass media revealed quite the opposite situation, with members of the parties, especially the ruling party PSD, campaigning for the ballot due this weekend.

At the end of September, a church in Banesti, Prahova county hosted a debate on the referendum, attended by priests, local leaders, mayors and more politicians from several parties, including Environment minister Gratiela Gavrilescu. Other churches, as one in Braila, have allowed banners calling people to vote „Yes” at the referendum, and displaying discriminatory messages. Banners with similar messages, such as the ones “Come to the referendum otherwise, gay couples will take you children”, have been on display in Timisoara; following strong criticism, the city hall decided to remove them.

On the other hand, in the domestic policy’s camp, some political leaders revealed how they will vote, while others said they will go to the referendum, but kept their vote a secret.

While Dragnea, Basescu and Orban announced they would vote „Yes”, Tariceanu and Hunor only said they will go to vote, and Barna announced his vote will be „No”.

PSD chairman Liviu Dragnea said on Sunday he will vote „yes” for the traditional family as he was educated „in the countryside, as an Orthodox”.

Former President Traian Basescu, PMP senator, took a similar stance, arguing he will vote in favor of the union between a man and a woman, as he comes from the European People’s family.

PNL chairman Ludovic Orban also said he will go to the polls and vote in favor, but mentioned the party is not imposing its followers how to vote.

On another note, Liberals have asked on the Central Electoral Bureau on Friday to take some actions to prevent  potential vote scams. More precisely, PNL asks that the official record signed at the end of the voting on Saturday should be a pre-printed standard one and that it should be confronted with the electoral lists. PNL also asked that other members of the polling stations should be banned to manage the additional lists.

ALDE chairman Calin Popescu Tariceanu also said his party recommends its supporters to vote as their conscience dictates. He admitted he would go to polls, but didn’t want to reveal how he will vote.

UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor also advised the Magyars in Romania to go to the polls and vote whatever they like.

USR chairman Dan Barna announced the party’s MPs will vote against amending the Constitution, arguing the topic of the referendum is fake and the nobody’s live will get improved the next day after the ballot. Moreover, Barna says that the referendum represents one of the Social Democrat Party’s diversions to enforce the “fraud machine” for the next elections.

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