The saga of who should represent Romania at the European summit has been resolved, sort of.
On Wednesday the Constitutional Court ruled that President Băsescu should represent the country. There is a report here. However, immediately, PM Ponta declared that he would be going to the summit. He claimed that he had the legitimacy to represent Romania because parliament had declared that he should do so. He also claimed, in effect, that the Constitutional Court could not make such a decision because it was full of political appointees who were favourable to the president. He is not wrong in that regard. That said, it seems as though he is not challenging the legitimacy of the Court per se, because the argument is being made that the Court’s rulings only take effect when they are published in the Official Journal. This will take about a week. So, PM Ponta seems to be saying that he has the legal authority at this point. Next time may be different.
Anyway, faced with the PM’s determination to attend and perhaps noting this legal situation, President Băsescu decided not to go the summit. He is reported as saying that he decided not to attend because he did not want to create an embarrassing decision. He also recalls that this is the first time he has not represented Romania, even though there was a period of cohabitation during his first term.
This conflict is just one of a series that have occurred since the period of cohabitation began. For example, previously, I posted about the law that makes it easier to remove the president from office. Presumably, a vote to do so will follow soon. The PM has also been accused of plagiarism. The PM, in turn, has accused the presidential palace of spreading the plagiarism story.
More generally, the government has been at odds with the Constitutional Court. For example, as I posted on the Facebook site, the Constitutional Court has just ruled that the government’s plan to introduce what amounted to a first-past-the-post electoral system has been struck down in its entirety. The Court also ruled against the former socialist PM, Adrian Nastase, who then tried to commit suicide. For its part, a law was passed by parliament a couple of weeks ago that stripped the Constitutional Court of its power to rule in political cases (presumably, ones like the issue of who should represent Romania at the EU). That said, I am not sure how such a law fits with the constitution.
The tension between the government and the Court is not surprising because the Romanian president does not have many constitutional powers. Therefore, the Court with its presidential majority represents perhaps the most significant block on the new government’s powers.
All in all, as long as cohabitation lasts, I am confident in predicting that there will be plenty of posts on Romania.