Romania PM seeks early elections

Fri 8 Jul 2005

Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu told the members of his cabinet on 7 July that he will resign and would seek early elections. This happened one day after the constitutional court blocked judicial reforms demanded by the European Union.

According to Popescu, the court’s decision meant Romania now had no chance of joining the EU on schedule in 2007. He said he would ask President Traian Basescu to call new elections. "We are facing an unprecedented situation. With the blocking of judicial reforms we have no chance of receiving a favourable monitoring report that would allow Romania to join the European Union on 1 January 2007’’, said Popescu.

Romania and Bulgaria have signed EU accession treaties but they have been told entry can be delayed for a year if either one fails to meet EU standards.

The reforms rejected by Romania’s constitutional court included a clause intended to force the resignation of judicial officials appointed by the previous government to select magistrates. The government wants to organise competitions for new magistrates to tackle corruption. Without such reforms, an EU report due in October may recommend a year’s delay in Romania’s accession. "A democratic vote is the only way to decide whether Romania wants to continue reforming its judiciary or maintain this scandalous system of a Constitutional Court dominated by a political party, formerly in power, and now seeking to maintain its privileges," said Popescu. He envisages the previous ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD).

New elections cannot be called until 45 days after Popescu's resignation. The centre-right coalition government was only elected last November, but President Basescu has talked of calling early elections to strengthen his party’s majority. If at the new elections, Popescu and his allies secure a two-third majority, he can overrule the court’s decision.

An extraordinary parliamentary session has been called on 13 July, in an attempt to revisit the law package.

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