Romania anti-corruption referendum scheduled for same day as EU elections

Written by Martin Banks on 6 May 2019 in News
News

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has confirmed by decree that a national referendum will be organised on 26 May, the same day as the European elections, on two ‘national interest’ issues.

Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


The two issues are the ban on granting amnesty or pardoning those convicted of corruption and the ban on using government emergency orders to implement justice reform.

Iohannis, whose country is the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, sought to justify the decision by saying that Romanian society is increasingly preoccupied with the need to combat corruption and the need for coherent and stable legislation.

The Romanian Parliament recently voted to amend aspects of the country’s judicial system, voting by a majority of 181 votes to alter the code of criminal procedure.


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The planned reforms cover a whole range of issues, including abuse of office, wiretapping and amnesty for bribers who confess within one year of the bribe.

In the national referendum on 26 May, the last day of the European elections, Romanian voters will have to answer Yes or No to the following questions: Do you agree with banning amnesty and pardon for corruption offenses and do you agree with banning the adoption by the Government of emergency ordinances in the area of crimes, punishments and judiciary organisation, and with extending the right to challenge ordinances directly at the Constitutional Court?

The referendum needs voter turnout of at least 30 percent to be valid.

Romania's Prime Minister Viorica Dancila recently rejected calls by ambassadors from 12 countries, including the United States and Germany, to refrain from amending laws on fighting crime and corruption by decree.

"Romanian voters will have to answer Yes or No to the following questions: Do you agree with banning amnesty and pardon for corruption offenses and do you agree with banning the adoption by the Government of emergency ordinances in the area of crimes, punishments and judiciary organisation?"

Iohannis has called for "zero tolerance for corruption," though some see the referendum as a move to boost voter turnout for the European Parliament elections which take place from 23 to 26 May and increase support for candidates opposed to the ruling Social Democrat party.

Meanwhile, with the EU wide-poll looming, the European parliament says that with over 75 million views in a week, its campaign election film "Choose Your Future" has had an “exceptional impact.”

The film is part of a high-profile parliamentary awareness campaign based on the “feeling of togetherness.”

Since its launch on 25 April, the three-minute film has, it is claimed, been viewed over 75 million times which, according to a Parliament spokesman, are “unprecedented figures for an institutional campaign.”

Directed by award-winning Frédéric Planchon and developed and produced by Parliament’s contractor, European Broadcast Partners, it documents what the Parliament calls the “intense, beautiful and fragile moments when newborn children come into this world across Europe” and aims to make the public reflect on why they vote.

Parliament’s campaign also includes an online platform to get people involved in the elections from 23-26 May. So far, more than 270,000 people have signed up.

The assembly has invested heavily in trying to improve voter turnout in the elections after participation fell to 42 percent, an all-time low, at the last elections five years ago.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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