Romania’s governing parties ponder referendum on constitutional monarchy

Two leaders of the parties making up the governing coalition in Romania talked about the possibility of a referendum about the county becoming a constitutional monarchy.

Niculae Bădălău, the executive president of the Social Democrat Party (PSD), said the Romanian people could be asked if they want to live in a republic or a monarchy. Bădălău, who said he is a republican, argued the project of such a referendum is one “the politicians, together with the president and very many other factors should sit down and discuss,” Mediafax reported.

“I think the people should be asked. It is not a bad thing, since countries which are monarchies are developed ones,” he said. He did not rule out the possibility of the referendum taking place next year. “Of course, anything is possible. As long as we are holding a referendum on the traditional family, we can also ask people such a question.”

Bădălău also argued that the bill concerning the Romanian royal house should be sped up. “It should be discussed, especially since we have seen in the media that there are already many sympathizers, maybe a referendum concerning this system presidency – monarchy, anything is possible,” he said.

The bill concerning the Royal House gives the head of the Royal House the same status as that of former heads of state, and an administrative service financed from the state budget.

This weekend, Romania gave a state funeral to King Michael I, the country’s last monarch. King Michael passed away on December 5, in Switzerland. Three national days of mourning were held in his memory. Thousands joined the funeral ceremonies in Bucharest, alongside representatives of many European and international royal houses, including Prince Charles of Wales, former King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, and King Carl Gustaf of Sweden and his wife Queen Silvia. Thousands also gathered in Curtea de Arges, where the king was buried, and in train stations along the route of the royal train transporting the king’s casket to Curtea de Arges. Millions watched the funeral on TV.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mihai Tudose said he was a republican, when asked to comment on the possibility of a referendum. “I am not a monarchist. I cannot approve, I’m telling you what my position is concerning the monarchy,” Tudose said.

In his turn, Călin Popescu Tăriceanu, the head of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) and the president of the Senate, said a constitutional monarchy would correct the current “hybrid” constitutional system, which “has the seeds of conflict planted in it” through the prerogatives it grants the president, reported.

“I think we are one of the few countries that are an exception to the rule of the parliamentary democracies, where the president has a representative role. With us, there is this constant problem that we will need to have the courage to tackle one day. The constitutional monarchy has the advantage of placing the monarch above and outside the political game and of the political parties,” Tăriceanu said.

He also said that in Romania, “the president, instead of being an arbiter, prefers to be a player all the time” and because of this “the constitutional system suffers.”

He also pointed to the growing public sentiment in favor of the Royal House and to “the trust of Romanians in the governing form called a constitutional monarchy.” Tăriceanu said a referendum “should be decided on when there is a majority or there is a general consensus.”

Romania used to be a constitutional monarchy from 1881 until 1947, when King Michael was forced to abdicate. A popular republic replaced the monarchy, and from 1965 to 1989, the country was known as the Socialist Republic of Romania.

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