Romanian Constitutional Court Overturns Changes to Election Law

Romania’s Constitutional Court said a law eliminating a minimum electoral threshold for lawmakers in not constitutional, following a challenge by the opposition, the court’s head Augustin Zegrean said.

The law, adopted by the Parliament on May 22, and proposed by the country’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta and his coalition partner Crin Antonescu, had aimed to implement a new system that allowed candidates to win a seat in Parliament regardless of the score obtained by their party.

The current electoral system will remain unchanged, following the court decision, and the candidate who wins the highest number of votes in a district in the first ballot will keep the seat only if his party passes the minimum 5 percent threshold of total valid votes cast. Romania is scheduled to hold general elections in November or December.

The Court also ruled in favor of President Traian Basescu in a dispute with Prime Minister Victor Ponta over the country’s representation at the next meeting of the European Union heads tomorrow, saying Basescu should represent Romania.

The decision triggered another round of accusations from Ponta over Basescu’s alleged abuse, after blaming the president of instigating a plagiarism accusation over his doctoral thesis.

Ponta, who is backed by a majority in Parliament of Social-Democrats and Liberals, said he still has the right to go to Brussels, based on political statement approved previously by the lawmakers.

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