Friday, May 31, 2013

Romanian parliament approves lower turnout for referendums

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania's parliament approved a law on Wednesday that lowers the turnout needed for any referendum to pass, a result that will make it easier for the ruling party to make planned changes to the constitution.

The ruling leftist Social Liberal Union (USL) wants to modify Romania's constitution by the end of this year, saying that it needs to be amended to better define the balance of power in the European Union member.

Insufficient voter turnout, persistently low in Romania and elsewhere in the EU, thwarted an attempt by the USL last year to impeach their political rival, center-right President Traian Basescu, on grounds he had broken the constitution.

The move alarmed the European Commission and investors at the time, but tensions have since eased and the USL is unlikely to attempt to impeach Basescu again, also because his term expires next year.

The new law approved by parliament, where the USL holds 70 percent of the seats, cuts the required turnout for a referendum to pass to a third of all voters, from the previous 50 percent.

Romania's opposition has said it will file a complaint to the country's constitutional court on the grounds that parliament did not have enough time to debate the law and that the vote was rushed through by its USL supporters.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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