“No Criminals in Public Office” Initiative stuck in the Senate

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The Senate siting has been suspended on Wednesday due to lack of quorum, with several important drafts put on hold, such as the citizen initiative to revise the Constitution “No criminals in public office” and the re-examination request for the law that nominates the Parliament instead of the Government to establish the date of parliamentary elections.
USR, which initiated and lobbied for the initiative has accused PSD and PNL altogether of playing “political games”.
The Senate leadership, controlled by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) has decided that MPs must vote in person in the Wednesday sitting and not by phone, as it has been in the past months.
Liberals have announced that they will vote the USR’s initiative only if there is quorum without them.
USR and UDMR have slammed the last minute decision to have a physical voting procedure instead of an online one.
USR chairman Dan Barna stated: “If the vote by phone is not considered, as it has been done in the Senate for the past two months, we shall not take part in this charade and we’ll not be present, as the initiative has no chances to pass. I ask Mr. Orban and Mr. Ciolacu to give up any parliamentary combinations and to approve to get back to the vote by phone”.
“Just several hours before the plenary session, The Committee of Leaders in the Senate” has not taken the pandemic into account and decided the plenary session should take place with the senators’ attending it in person. Therefore, UDMR senators could not attend the vote today. We consider it is unacceptable that, during the electoral campaign, the majority uses such instruments to prevent UDMR senators from attending the Senate’s plenary session”, says Cseke Attila, leader of UDMR senators.
As there were only 58 Social Democrat senators in the plenary hall, the session was suspended.
Previously, both PSD and PNL announced they would vote the citizen initiative. Interim Senate Speaker, Robert Cazanciuc said that PSD would vote the initiative, but the senators’ physical presence is needed.
PNL senator Alina Gorghiu said that Liberals will boycott the Senate session to prevent PSD from obtaining the annulment of the parliamentary elections from December 6.

The Chamber of Deputies adopted the citizen initiative by 295 votes and one abstention on July 14, as the first notified chamber of the Parliament.

The “No criminals in public office” initiative introduces a new paragraph in the Constitution’s article 37 which says that “Citizens sentenced to prison by a final ruling for intentionally committed crimes cannot be elected in the public local authorities, in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, or in the office of President of Romania”.

If the Senate is giving its green light to the initiative, the referendum to amend the Constitution in this regard might take place together with the general elections set on December 6, 2020.

The civic initiative „No more criminals in public office” had gathered one million signatures in August 2018 and was submitted to Parliament in September that year.

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