Romanian PM calls judges ‘party apparatchiks’ after top court rules the government can’t set election date

Foto: INQUAM/George Călin

Romania’s Prime MinisterLudovic Orban has called Constitutional Court judges “party apparatchiks” after the court ruled that the government couldn’t set a date for general elections.

The court decision, published on Wednesday, throws into doubt the date for the upcoming parliamentary elections which the government has set for December 6.

Judges ruled, however, that Parliament, not the government should set the date and rejected a challenge by President Klaus Iohannis.

In the past, the government has always set the election dates, but the current Liberal administration lacks a majority in Parliament. The legislature is dominated by parties that want to postpone the ballot until the Spring, ostensibly over a spike in coronavirus cases.

In reality, Parliament’s biggest party the Social Democrats and their allies did worse than expected in last month’s local elections and are hoping support for the center-right minority government will erode over the winter.

On Thursday, Premier Orban said his government had set the election date in a legal and constitutional manner and called the Oct. 14 court ruling “fanciful.”

“The makeup of the Constitutional Court needs to be changed, and party apparatchiks should be eliminated and (replaced) by magistrates with a serious career, not people who were involved in politics and are appointed to execute political commands, „he said in an interview with Digi24 TV.

Constitutional Court president Valer Dorneanu reprimanded the prime minister for his language and said he’d launched a „below the belt attack on the Constitutional Court.”

President Iohannis He has 10 days to sign off on the new election law. He could send it back to Parliament which would buy the government time to.

Social Democrat leader Marcel Ciolos on Wednesday said elections should be postponed.

„In my view, the president and his government have let the pandemic get out of control. When you have 4,000 new cases a day, holding parliamentary elections is out of the question.”

“We need a legitimate Parliament, not (one) voted by just a few Romanians. How can the Parliament be legitimate when people don’t go out and vote,” he said.

Pro-Romania, an ally of the Social Democrats has asked outright for elections to be deferred until the health crisis eases off.  


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