Update: Referendum against same-sex marriages in Romania fails to reach turnout threshold

The referendum in Romania for changing the Constitution and banning same-sex marriages recorded a very low turnout and will be invalidated.

Update 2: The partial official results presented on Monday morning, October 8, said that 20.96% of the Romanians voted in the referendum (3.77 million), and most of the votes, namely over 91% were in favor of changing the Constitution. Only 6.42% of votes were against and the rest were void. 

Update 1: Only 20.4% of the Romanians voted in the referendum, according to official statistics from the Central Electoral Bureau (BEC). Only 3.73 million people went to vote out of a total of 18.28 million registered on the electoral lists. The highest turnout was recorded in Suceava county, in North-Eastern Romania, namely 30.67%, while the lowest rate was in Covasna county, in central Romania, – 8.5%. In Bucharest, the turnout was only 15.7%, below the national average.

The referendum started on Saturday morning, at 7:00, and the polls closed on Sunday evening, at 21:00. Over 30% of the voting-age Romanians, namely almost 5.5 million people, needed to vote in this referendum to have it validated.

Romanians were called to the polls to vote if they agree to changing an article in the Constitutions that states that “family is based on the marriage between spouses” to “family is based on the marriage between a man and a woman”. The initiative came from a group of NGOs that support the traditional family, called the Coalition for Family, and was largely supported by the Romanian Orthodox Church.

The Coalition for Family managed to gather 3 million signatures to initiate the referendum in early-2016. The Parliament voted the initiative in September this year and the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Liviu Dragnea, announced the date of the referendum and said he would vote this initiative. The Government decided to hold the referendum in two days and allotted EUR 35 million for organizing it.

Same-sex marriages are not allowed in Romania, according to the Civil Code, but those supporting the referendum argued that the notion of marriage also needed to be clarified in the Constitution, to avoid a situation in which the Civil Code could be changed.

The Coalition for Family urged people to go to the referendum “for the future of their children” while priests all over the country told their parishioners that it is their Christian duty to vote for changing the Constitution.

The Coalition for Family’s representatives said on Sunday that their efforts and those of the Church have been sabotaged by the political parties, which haven’t really engaged in bringing people to the polls, despite their leaders’ statements.

Romanian Orthodox Church steps up propaganda before referendum for family

Propaganda for referendum in schools calls people to “defend Romania’s children”

Comment: Who has the right to define what family should look like, in today’s Romania?

[email protected]

(Photo source: Inquam Photos / Alexandra Pandrea)