Romania – Presidential vetoes

The period of cohabitation in Romania is one year old.

Recently, relations between the president and the government have been less conflictual compared with this time last year. This is probably because the governing parties are still relatively popular and because President Traian Băsescu has separated himself from his own political party when it refused to choose his preferred candidate as party leader. Moreover, with the presidential election coming up later this year in 2014 and with the governing parties well placed to win, the government may have less incentive to challenge the presidency.

That said, President Traian Băsescu continues to use his powers against the government.

During the period of cohabitation (May 2012-May 2013), my calculations indicate that he has vetoed 13 pieces of legislation, the most recent of which was on 26 April. (Note, one additional veto was issued by the interim president, Crin Antonescu, in July 2012.) In addition, as far as I am aware, President Băsescu has also asked the Constitutional Court to rule on two bills during the current period of cohabitation, again the most recent of which was on 26 April.

But how do these figures compare? Well, using the same source with the search term ‘Cerere de reexaminare’, there were 11 vetoes in the previous year (May 2011-May 2012) and 16 in the year before that. So, the current level of veto activity is not any greater in those terms. Moreover, from May 2011-May 2012 he sent four bills to the Constitutional Court, all of them on the same day – 28 November 2011. Again, therefore, the current level of activity is no greater.

It would take a Romania expert to tell me whether the content and/or context of the vetoes was more critical during the recent period. However, it is worth remembering that President Băsescu was faced with an opposition majority in the Senate prior to cohabitation and that the majority in the lower house was not secure before then either. So, there was not a clear switch from unified majority government to cohabitation in May 2012. What is more, during the first legislature of his first term (2004-2008), President Băsescu vetoed more than 80 bills. So, generally, he has been very active in this regard.

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