BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - Romanian lawmakers voted Tuesday to change the electoral system from casting ballots for party lists to a uninominal one selecting individual candidates from each district.
The current system has been in place since communism ended in 1989 and plans to reform it were debated for about three years before the parliament voted on the bill.
The change was approved 231-11 with 18 abstentions. The bill now goes to President Traian Basescu, who must sign it in order for it to become law.
«This is a first step toward bringing more credibility to Romanian politicians,» said Cristian Radulescu, a lawmaker for the Democratic Liberal Party. «This vote was something that the population wanted.
So far, lawmakers have been elected on party lists, a system that was criticized because politicians were often not seen to have a direct responsibility toward constituents, their needs and the communities they represented.
The bill passed Tuesday says a lawmaker for the Chamber of Deputies will be chosen from a constituency with 70,000 voters and a senator will need to win in a constituency of 160,000 voters. There will be an electoral threshold for each party of 5 percent, and votes that go to parties that do not reach the threshold will be redistributed proportionally among the winners.
Romania has a population of 22 million, with up to 2 million of those working abroad.
The country prepares for local elections later in the spring and parliamentary elections in the autumn.