Life in the Romanian capital is boiling like in a huge ant hill. On foot
by streets, in seats of subway trains, buses and at the wheels of cars
numerous citizens and visitors of various colors and types are moving
around Bucharest. Blinking semaphores, signalling cars, hogging taxi
drivers and trams tapping on tracks. But here is a strange thing.
Recently like bright blue spots from the daily kaleidoscope something
started to appear. Omnipresent agitation posters. "DA" written with
capital letters. Yellow five-pointed stars making up Romania's outline
on the map.. The matter is the following. Soon a referendum is to take
place. The subject is the country's new Constitution which was modified
in accordance with demands that the European Union makes of candidate
countries. Just because of couriosity, the traditionally apolitical
thekonst.net resource decided to make exception by researching
Internet and the Referendum
The current Constitution of Romania was adopted back in 1991 as a result
of the nation-wide referendum that took place on the 8th December the
same year. Soon it's going to be modified. So, first yours truly
decided to find out: what the population of the Carpathian country will
vote for on the 19th October. What are the changes the numerous posters
posters, banners and TV ads are encouraging to say a firm "yes" to?
Initially my plan was to buy several news-papers and to read them when I
have some free time. But then I thought, hey, why not such an
information would be available somewhere on internet? Having in mind
existance of projects like e-guvernare.ro (e.g. "e-government", the system to
provide better communication between the authorities and population with
the help of the modern technology), it could be assumed that, let's say,
the Parliament's web
site would have such an info.
So it was true. On the site's main page, to the right there were the old
variant of the fundamental law in html, and the new document with
description of the mofications going to be made, in pdf format. The
latter describes what and in which paragraph would change in case the
referendum has a positive result. The both documents are available in
several languages. The funny fact is that both are translated into
English and French, like there are major minorities living in Romania
speaking these languages.
During several days I was going to start reading the pdf with changes,
having the full variant of the old Constitution open in another browser
window. It was the only way to understand what actually was changed. Due
to permanent being busy I had to postpone that every time, until a
friend sent me a link to the Constitution given in a very useful
presentation. I wonder though why the guys who are involved into
maintenaince of the government web sites didn't come out with such an
idea. So here there is a variant written in the following way:
the intact text is black, modifications are highlighted with red, and
the striked out red are removed parts, respectively. Probably, the most
useful to read presentation. Great work.
Besides the text, the
site contains some interesting comments. The resource belongs to
moderate politicians, thus it's quite possible to agree with their point
of view. "The new Constitution is definitely a step forward" -- they
say, "but the aggressiveness of agitation for the referendum is
formidable". Indeed, the majority of posters say the same thing -- "vote
for Europe", not-so-transparently dropping hints that if you don't like
their new propositions, neither you want to live in Europe. The whole
campaign was aimed to equate the propositions to the new Constitution
with entering into the European Union, which was actually not logic,
since apart from "european" changes it has a lot of innovations related
to the country's political system.
As to the posters, they are everywhere. In the subway there are batches
of booklets, on TV there are endless ads. I even decided to make a small
photo album with all the ad stuff
they made with all possible combinations and places they were put at.
There were funny things about it. Once I saw a "Vote for Europe" banner
above a road. It was ok, if only it hadn't been put exactly over an ad
of some candy or drink, whose slogan was saying something like "one gulp
and you'll go crazy". So it was like because of Europe you'd go cazy.
Unfortunatelly, it was late and dark, thus I didn't manage to take a
picture with that thingie. Then, during whole the week it was raining
and I also had a lot of work to do. Maybe I'll still manage to come to
the area. It's called the Free press square, and also remarkable because
of a building called "House of press". It's former "House of spark", an
exact copy of the Lomonosov university from Moscow, a gift from the
So what are the innovations the new Constitution would bring to Romania?
Let's read. In the first chapter there are some clarifications, about
the authorities separation into three branches, that the
representativeness of authorities is made through elections, etc. They
are just the base principles of democracy. Also the Revolution of 1989
which put the end to the communist dictature was mentioned. More
exactly, it says the following: "Romania is a jural, democratic and
social state, in which human's dignity, rights and freedoms of citizens,
free development of the human's personality, justice and political
pluralism represent superior values, in the spirit of democratic
traditions of the Romanian people and the ideals of the Revolution of
1989". The part about the Revolution and traditions was added.
It gets more interesting when it comes to the rights of national
minorities. In the same chapter called "General principles" the emphasis
is laid not only on the Romanian people, but also on the "citizens
solidarity": "The basis of the state is unity of the Romanian people and
solidarity of its citizens".
A funny observation is that the less words were modified in a paragraph,
the more its essence was changed. The most important changes are related
to articles from which only one word was cut. For example: "Public,
civic and millitary functions and posts can be occupied by persons who
only Romanian citizenship.." This means that now in case of
gaining a second citizenship (which is permitted by the law), one still
have a right to participate in the state's political life. In the same
"Fundamental rights, liberties and obligations" it was added: "The
Romanian state guarantees equal chances to men and women in possibility
to occupy these posts".
Another example of how cutting out of a single word can affect the
essence can be found in "Right on private property": "Private property
is equally guaranteed and protected by the law, regardless of the
owner's identity. Foreign citizens and persons without citizenship can
not get a right to own land". Then a lot of specifications go,
like it will be done within the agreements practiced in EU, and based on
other international documents signed by Romania. Foreigners will be able
to succeed lands they own. It was also added that poperty cannot be
nationalized in sign of discrimination by any characteristic.
As to national minorities, the new Constitution will guarantee them a
right to have documents circulation in their language in regions where
they represent majority. First of all, it concerns the Hungarian who
have really big communities in the center and in the West of the
country. Living in their villages they don't have any contact with the
Romanian language (neither they strive for learning it). So, this
innovation is just aimed to legitimate the way how they things really
are. Moreover, minorities, foreigners and persons without citizenship
will have a right to speak in court through interpreter, even if they
know Romanian. Before it was only possible if they didn't know it at
all. Well, quite a democratic and positive innovation, which though
doesn't change too much.
The rest is not so intersting, because it affects mostly the political
system. So reading further articles already made me yawn. Deputees will
now take an oath. Someone said they wouldn't enjoy their legal immunity
anymore. That's not true. The paragraph about it was rewritten, though
its essence remained the same: for commiting a crime one, like it was
before, would be able to be arrested only if the chamber he belongs to
would agree. By the way, it's quite a normal practice. I remember the
course of the Constitution of Ukraine back at the university, which I
liked a lot. Our teacher didn't operate dull formulations. Instead, he
used to speak about the political stuff in a very interesting and
popular way. Also he explaned where a certain practice came from. So,
about the immunity. Its initial scope wasn't so that someone could hide
his dirty deeds, though needs to say, often it's used exactly for that.
However, the practice is aimed to provide better independence of the
three branches of power. Imagine yourself a situation when the prime
minister (executive power) decided to influence with brute force on some
voting in the Parliament (legislative power, respectively). What does
the chief of the government would do? He would order the minister of
internal affairs to influence the voting on the project he doesn't like.
So, everyone they manage to find gets arrested for the law-determined
term of 24 hours. Having not gained the required amount of votes, the
law doesn't pass. Everything is legal and clean. Arrested deputees can
be considered a coincidence.
A "small" modification concerning the President's mandate duration -- it
was changed from 4 to 5 years. As to other numbers, citizens' law
intiative (which cannot affect taxes and international affairs though)
can now be considered having gathered only 100.000 signatures, instead
of 250.000 like it was before.
Also, according to the new Constitution, the President cannot revoke the
prime minister. However, exactly the himself he proposes a candidature
for the prime minister position to the Parliament. Cannot get the sense
of this one.
And obviously, the articles about millitary blocks (for NATO) and
currency (for Euro) were modified.
Initially it looked to me like in Romania there was no opposition to the
new document at all, like everyone is for the united Europe and the
society is as a whole in this impulse. It's not quite true. There are
some malcontent ones. Here
you can find the text in which the new
Constitutional propositions are assailed. The majority of organizations
signed under this text are rather of ultra-right kind. Like the one
called "Christian forum "Noua Dreapta". Having digged at their web site
an English translation) one can easily find photos of actions of the
"new right" (that's how the name is translated): throwing up hands in
Nazi greeting, the "right" are protesting against the homosexual
"liberty parade". Organizers of actions with 50 participants are a very
persuasive opposition indeed.
To all appearances, it looks like the new Constitution will be adopted.
Having in mind the active agitation and referendum preparations, it's
hard to imagine that the majority will not vote "placet". Slogans with
Europe -- the main fetish of the present will definitely have the
desired result, and the country of the Carpathians soon will update its
fundamental law. That's the prognosis of thekonst.net. In the
following few days we'll find out if it proves to be true. Stay tuned.
PS : It's a bit old note which I managed to translate only
today. Actually, the referendum has already took place and the result
was a positive one.