Unicameral parliament – assumed and criticized by political class

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The topic of modifying the Romanian parliamentary system from bicameral to unicameral was approached for the first time, as a political speech, in Romania’s post-Revolutionary history, from the first year of term of president Traian Basescu.

Since then, the leaders of the Romanian political parties have vacillated uninterruptedly between criticising and accepting the one-chamber system, emphasizing the advantages of such a system.

The one who expressed the most severe upon this idea was Antonie Iorgovan – „the father of the Constitution” – who said in 2005, in a statement from the Senate’s platform, that „the thesis of an unicameral Parliament is an extreme stupidity”. He then criticised the PSD for taking over this idea and making it public, without consulting the PSD experts in constitutional law.

In 2008, the president of the Constitutional Court of Romania, Ioan Vida, said that in Romania the bicameral system did not work, that there existed three unicameral parliaments and voiced the need to clarify the current system. He agreed with the modification of Constitution, but opined that the process is complicated. „Those who think it (the Constitution) could be changed over night are very wrong”, the CCR head said.

The premises of the announcement made by president Base scu on Thursday are also found in the Presidential Commission’s Report of analysis of the political and constitutional regime, presented in January 2009, which said „the unicameral solution is adjusted to the structure of a unitary state, which doesn’t know the federal ramification; from the costs’ viewpoint, it allows the cut of the number of the MPs;

the unicameral organization could generate a much more rapid process of endorsing the laws, by eliminating the procedural redundancies; one-chamber parliament is adequate to the idea of unity of the nation. One single nation leads to the idea of one single parliamentary chamber; in the context created by the generalization of the Constitutional Court, the control of the latter is subdued to the type of censorship reserved initially to the higher chambers”.

The authors of the report also showed the shortages of the unicameral idea of parliament, such as the tendencies of authority of the political majority or the impossibility to avoid the constitutional deadlocks.
As regards the politicians, they had different opinions regarding the one-chamber parliament, in 2005:

Nicolae Vacaroiu, speaker of the Senate: The unicameral parliament would be a big mistake. The bicameral system extended in the past ten years in Europe, many of the states adopting the bicameral system, which is more operative. I would sustain a reduction of the number of the senators by 10-20 percent.

Gheorghe Funar, Greater Romania Party group’s leader in the Senate: President Basescu has been very attentive to us, the Romanians, which is he took care that we didn’t remain without a circus topic in the country and launched this diversion which has nothing to do with Romania’s tradition and the other European democratic countries’ tradition.

Adrian Nastase, Social Democratic Party president: Such a system cannot function on an administrative, executive formula and this is easy to see in the rhythm of activity of the Government.

These things should be looked upon again, as a more clearly responsibility assumed will be very useful also for the moment of the vote, when looking for alternatives.
Puiu Hasotti, Liberal senator: Of course, the president may organize a referendum, but, personally, I believe that to Romania the unicameral parliament is not a must. I don’t see the utility of such a Parliament.

Emil Boc, Democratic Party leader: I heard somewhere in the 90s about people of good-will of the current PSD who were called to make order in Bucharest and you know the way they did it. Now, they have just changed the word, iťs about the Revolution of the Well-being (a project initiated by the PSD which had in view the uninominal vote and the unicameral Parliament – ed. n.).

I believe that through what they did in the 90s and the fact that when they were in power they also had the possibility to organize the unicameral Parliament and the uninominal vote, but they didn’t do it, demonstrates that we are confronted with a demagogic game.

Peter Eckstein Kovacs, Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania’s senator: A new revision of the Constitution is necessary, in order to change the bicameral pattern in Romania. It is, first of all, a party’s agreement. I, personally, was always for a bicameral parliament.

Sergiu Andon, Conservative Party’s senator: The simple reduction of the number of chambers of the Parliament will not make it more efficient. We are pleased to see that president Basescu assumed our idea and, if political will exists, we could start talks for the draft of modification of the Constitution in this respect.

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