In 2016 the Romanian Parliament received a citizens’ referendum initiative supported by over 3 million signatures in favour of amending Romania’s Constitution with a clarification to the definition of marriage as „union between one man and one woman”.
The Constitutional Court of Romania ratified last year the initiative and in 2017 the Parliament started legal proceedings to approve and organize the referendum according to the citizens’ will.
On February 28th, Gabriel Andronache, a deputy from the National Liberal Party (PNL) officially filed an amendment to the citizens’ referendum initiative. He explained, as quoted by News.ro:
The original proposal [for the constitutional text to be reformulated through referendum] would generate a constitutional text far too conservative… while our proposal allows for a modern approach, in line with the latest generation of human rights.
On the same day, at the weekly session of the Committee for Legal Matters, Discipline, and Immunities of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, Dep. Andronache explained his amendment proposal:
We want a separation between the institution of family and the definition given to the institution of marriage.
Dep. Marton Arpad, representative of the Hungarian minority in Romania (UDMR) replied that he was „shocked”. He said that, if the amendment was to pass, family would cease to be defined as exclusively based on marriage.
Eugen Nicolicea (PSD), the committee chairman said at the same meeting that the amendement would annul the goal of the referendum by annuling the definition of family in the Constitution.
On its March 7th, 2017 session, the Committee for Legal Matters, Discipline, and Immunities of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies approved the citizens’ referendum initiative and sent recommendation for approval to the plenary of the Chamber of Deputies.
The committee also rejected the amendment to the citizens’ initiative filed by Dep. Gabriel Andronache (PNL).
Committee chairman Eugen Nicolicea (PSD) warned that the amendment „would have completely distorted the meaning of the citizens’ initiative”.
Dep. Ioan Cupşa (PNL) also said it „would make unconstitutional the whole text of the [fundamental] law”.
All PNL deputies members of the committee voted against Dep. Andronache’s amendment, forcing him to admit that he had initiated it on his own and not in the name of the National Liberal Party (PNL).
Nevertheless, this did not prevent Mrs Raluca Turcan, interim president of the National Liberal Party (PNL) from making a strange statement on March 13th. She said her party shall continue to support the referendum initiative but it shall also support the Andronache amendment at the plenary vote. Yet, she added that that members of her party were free to vote according to their conscience, as always.
The opinions are certainly divided among PNL members. Before Mrs Turcan made the aforementioned statement, Dep. Daniel Gheorghe (PNL) posted a series of reactions on his Facebook page. He wrote:
I apologize to the Romanians for my collegues’ mistake in filing a strange and senseless amendment to the citiyens’ project to modify the Constitution. I wish to make yet another warning. According to the party’s statute and the unequivocal decisions legitimately taken by the party permanent bureau, any attempt to introduce in the text of the citizens’ project formulations which turn family into a questionable concept (or deviate the substance of the text proposed by the citizens) break the political decisions assumed by PNL. This type of obscurely made decisions and lack of political commitment have reduced us to merely 20% [in the latest elections]; now I fear we might want to reach even lower, to 10%! I respectfully demand that my colleagues withdraw this amendment and respect the basic principles which PNL has programmatically assumed!
The amendment filed by my colleagues from the Legal Matters Committee reveal lack of a clear political line and the relativization of the PNL Statute. One cannot ratify in the National Permanent Bureau a political decision to support the amendment formulated by the citizens to the Constitutional article regarding family and then try to reconcile traditional values and Christian morality with the dilution of the Family required by NGOs that promote relativization of values and an agenda which is closer to cultural Marxism than to the founders of our party!