Can a referendum save rule of law in Romania?

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis is considering holding a referendum on the government's controversial justice system policy. He had "almost resolved" to take this step, he announced on Tuesday. The country's constitutional court last week gave the green light for the referendum to be held on the same day as the European elections. Romania's press examines the opportunities and risks of such a move.

Open/close all quotes
Revista 22 (RO) /

The people could finally stand up to Dragnea

If the people vote for a ban on politicians with a criminal record it would be a major blow for PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, Revista 22 coments:

“Liviu Dragner - a convicted criminal who holds public office - would be the main victim of the election campaign and referendum. He would no longer be able to run for the post of Romanian President or remain the President of the Chamber of Deputies. If the referendum is successful (as seems likely) Dragnea would be compelled to force a decision and pass a decree granting amnesty and pardon [to corrupt politicians]. That would lead to a major political and social crisis and his defeat in all the upcoming elections.” (RO) /

Vote could backfire

Such referendums also entail certain risks depending on the questions put to the people, warns Moise Guran on his blog:

“Can the president ask whether the judiciary should be completely independent from politics or whether the special department for investigating magistrates should be abolished entirely? ... So whether all the things the EU demands through its control and cooperation mechanism and which the PSD government has ignored should be implemented? Well, there are certainly huge risks involved here. Because if the people vote against the mechanism or against the provisions of Romania's EU accession agreement, the referendum could turn into a vote on leaving the EU. And that would be extremely dangerous!”