Basescu wants referrendum on unicameral Parliament

President Traian Basescu on Thursday requested the approval of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies for organizing a referendum on the day of the presidential election by which the Romanians should be consulted about setting up a unicameral Parliament with 300 members at most.

„A short time ago I contacted the heads of the two chambers and asked for their approval to continue the reform of the state. The approval is necessary for organizing a national referendum by which we should consult the people, the sovereign people, as it is described in the Constitution, about two aspects: the first is the reduction to a unicameral Parliament and the second aspect is the reduction of the number of parliamentarians to 300 at most.

Currently Romania has a 471 members of Parliament,” said President Basescu in a press statement made at the Cotroceni Palace on Thursday.
He added that the date suggested by Parliament for organizing the referendum was the date of the presidential election, so that the costs of consulting the people should be diminished.

„The reasons for my saying this are the ones I have often mentioned when I invited the parties to talk about the constitutional reform. You probably remember that, in 2005, I had the pledge of the parties that they should activate the commission on revising the Constitution. Of course, no party kept its word.

After the election in 2008 I had the same meeting in Cotroceni, this time with the parties making up the big coalition, they promised they would activate the constitutional commission in Parliament, they did not do it and then the only solution for making things move forward is the consultation of the people, the organization of a referendum,” explained the Head of State.

He added that the question of revising the Constitution was a „much more important” one, but a unicameral legislature, with a small number of parliamentarians, would meet Romania’s needs. The above-mentioned measure has numerous advantages.

„The first and most important one would be the fact that the decision in Parliament would be made more easily and Parliament would become much more efficient. At the same time the expenses for the functioning of the state would be reasonably reduced. Last but not least, I should mention the changes that are to take place in the EU by the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of the year.

On the basis of this treaty the European Parliament will continuously cooperate with Romania’s Parliament, the European Parliament becoming coauthor of the decisions to be made at European level, a fact that means that Romania would have anyway a chamber of Parliament in Brussels or Strasbourg,” said the President.

He mentioned the fact that a unicameral Parliament would give a „much more rapid” answer to the consultations the European Parliament will have with the national legislatures.

„From this point of view you have probably seen the performance of Romania’s Parliament, which, in three years, gave no opinion on the directives adopted by the European Parliament, although it was invited to,” added Basescu.

He opined that a small unicameral Parliament would also be a corruption reducing element. „Fewer high ranking politicians dealing in influence peddling. I am saying this without accusing anybody, but the risk of influence peddling is lower if , instead of 471 parliamentarians, there are 300 at most,” also said the Head of State.

Basescu appreciated that such a measure might also reduce the class of the privileged people, who have special pensions and incomes, special lump sums of money at their disposal.
„I think this measure is the only thing we can do in order to keep the promises we made at the beginning of the mandate and which referred to the modernization of the state.

As long as I was not understood, as I was in other situations – education, patrimony, health – by the political class in order to start the process of revising the Constitution and adjusting the Constitution to the present-days realities of Romania, I am duty bound to continue my steps and resort to legal constitutional means,” he said.

Traian Basescu added that he wanted to inform people of this situation for him to be able to present his motivation for this initiative.
Traian Basescu also hailed the measures taken by the Government lately concerning the reduction of the budget expenses, the education law and the new pay law, which he said reestablished equity.

„Certainly life will make it necessary to go on changing these laws and adjusting them to some social tenets, but what matters is the fact that the Government began a process meant to reform Romania,” he added.

According to the Head of State, the law on dismantling a large number of agencies leads to reducing public expenses, to rationally using the money from the state budget and directing it to investments, health, education and social assistance. But Basescu opined that these norm-setting documents were not enough.

„It is a mere beginning of reforming the state and the state must be, in its entirety, part of the reform process. We must do more for the public money to reach the development programmes and not be spent by a budget eating apparatus. I therefore think that there are two fundamental tenets in continuing the reforms after the Government assumed responsibility for the three law packages.

These tenets are the continuation of the reform of the state – the reform of the state did not stop here – and a second tenet: the reduction of the expenses for the functioning of the state, an essential element for the state itself not to be a burden to the tax payers, to its own citizens,” also explained Basescu.

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