Thursday, November 4, 2010

Romanian Court Ruling Risks Prime Minister Boc's Parliament Majority

Romania’s Constitutional Court ruled against a government plan to speed up the approval of an education law, risking Prime Minister Emil Boc’s ability to hold together a majority six weeks before a budget vote.

The court in Bucharest ruled that the government’s attempt to designate the bill’s approval a confidence vote was illegal because it withdrew the legislation from parliamentary debate, Justice Acsinte Gaspar said in a phone interview.

The education bill would allow ethnic Hungarians to study history and geography in their own language, a key issue for a party representing them that helps provide Boc with enough votes for a parliamentary majority. The junior coalition party helped the premier defeat a no-confidence vote last week.

The government’s inability to pass the education bill is a “problem” for the Democratic Union of Hungarians and progress in the issue is a condition for the group’s involvement in the governing coalition, party Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Bela Marko said, according to the Mediafax news service.

‘Unprecedented’ Intervention

The government is waiting for a formal explanation of the court ruling before consulting with parliament about, Ioana Muntean, a government spokeswomen, said in an e-mailed statement. It is “unprecedented” for the Court to intervene in the procedure of seeking confidence vote, she said.

The opposition has been trying to oust the government since it cut public-sector wages by 25 percent and increased the value-added tax to 24 percent to cut the budget deficit to qualify for loans from a 20 billion euros ($28 billion) International Monetary Fund, the European Union and other lenders as Romania recovers from its deepest-ever recession.

Romania’s economy shrank 0.5 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier as demand for the country’s cars, chemicals, steel and textiles increased in western Europe. Gross domestic product contracted 7.1 percent in 2009. The Cabinet plans to narrow the deficit to 4.4 percent of GDP next year after it ballooned to 7.2 percent in 2009.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net. Irina Savu in Bucharest at isavu@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez in Prague atjagomez@bloomberg.net

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