April 26, 2010
For Romania’s EU partners, its institutional problems are puzzling, to say the least. The 1991 Constitution inaugurated a semi-presidential republic, where the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches was not clearly defined. In 2007, a conflict that erupted between the President and parliamentarians brought Romania to institutional deadlock. The problem ? Parliamentarians could not fire the president, and the latter could not fire the premier or dissolve parliament. This half-Westminster, half-Congressional institutional arrangement is currently under review.
The warring parties have each presented their own constitutional reform projects. The president would like to become even more presidential than he already is, to abolish the Romanian Senate and to reduce the number of parliamentarians to 300. He is supported by experts like Cristian Preda and Ioan Stanomir, coordinated by their mentor, American professor Vladimir Tismaneanu, acting on behalf of US neocons. (For an extended discussion, interested readers can access my ebook on the state of constitutional reform in Romania)
The opposition, especially the social-democrats, would like to keep the bicameral system and to have the president elected by Parliament. If this reform comes to pass, Romania would become a Westminster-style parliamentary republic.
So far, the parliament has recently appointed a commission to propose changes to the Constitution. Mr Boc’s government, however, has announced its own reform project the following day, undermining the commission. (source: Radio France International)
The best-known NGO specialising in such matters, Asociatia Pro Democratia, was prevented from mediating between the warring parties and coming out with a workable reform project. Although the association was successful in introducing the uninominal vote in Romania in 2008, this time around the political stakes seem to be too high to allow an NGO to “interfere”.