On January 5th, the Romanian Ombudsman, Victor Ciorbea, has challenged the Law 90/2001 at the Constitutional Court of Romania, which prohibits convicted criminals to be members of the government. Following this action, the civic society started a petition demanding his resignation which has already been signed by over 144,850 people.
On Wednesday night, hundreds of people have been rallying in Bucharest, more than 1000 people in Cluj Napoca, and other cities across Romania, chanting slogans like: “Resignation, Down with Ciorbea, Victor Ciorbea don’t forget, today we want your resignation and Down with the convicts.”
How it Started
The whole movement started on the internet and it was born in the context of the PSD party winning the December 2016 parliamentary election. The Head of the PSD party, Liviu Dragnea, was convicted in a case involving electoral fraud, for which he received a two-year suspended sentence in April 2016. One of the issues debated on social media that preceded the demonstrations was about this discriminatory act considering that it is requested a clean record for most vacancies, especially for a position of power, and yet for Liviu Dragnea and for other political figures, the same rule doesn’t apply.
The spokesman of the president, Mădălina Dobrovolschi, has declared: “The Romanian President is outraged by the action of this morning by the ombudsman with a single beneficiary. Meanwhile, Romania’s President is surprised at how quickly the Ombudsman wants to become useful for the new political majority through an approach that protects the right of people criminal convicted to lead us.”
The Response of Ombudsman Victor Ciorbea
Victor Ciorbea’s response was that the protesters are poor people, not well informed, who didn’t have the patience or the interest to read the exception he has raised at the constitutional court of Romania. He also stated that any responsible, good-faith person who will read the exception will not be bothered by it, at the national or international level.
The President of the Constitutional Court (CCR), Valer Dorneanu, said Thursday that the notification regarding the Law 90/2001, which allows those convicted to be members of the government, “is a very complicated case, because it has an extraordinary political and media pressure, not that its contents would be very complicated” and for this reason has not yet set a hearing.
His answer was criticized by journalist Cristian T. Popescu who stated that if you are part of the Constitutional Court of Romania you should be “a living dead, stone face — the law, the constitution millimeter by millimeter“, therefore the public pressure shouldn’t delay the case.