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Romania constitutional court rejects controversial election law

The Constitutional Court of Romania [official website, in Romanian] on Wednesday ruled that a law allowing local and parliamentary elections to be held at the same time is unconstitutional. The Romanian Parliament [official website, in Romanian] passed the law in December [AP report], but objections from opposition leaders and anti-government protesters followed. The opposition argued that the law would facilitate fraud, cheating and confusion in the election process, while the government claimed the law would cuts costs by permitting one ballot for two elections. After the ruling, Romanian President Traian Basescu [official website, in Romanian] defended his administration [speech text, in Romanian] amid protests against the government's education, justice, criminal and economic policies.

Romanian elections have garnered discontent in recent years. The high court declared [press release, PDF; in Romanian] incumbent Basescu winner of the country's disputed presidential election [JURIST report] in December 2009. The court unanimously rejected a complaint by Basescu's opponent, Social Democrat Mircea Geoana [campaign website, in Romanian], to declare the results of the runoff election invalid because of allegations of voter fraud and bribery. After the first round of elections in November produced no clear winner, Basescu and Geoana faced a runoff election. Official results showed that Basescu had won by a mere 70,000 votes, garnering 50.3 percent of the total votes, and the court ordered election officials to recount [JURIST report] 138,000 voided ballots. In 2007, Basescu was reinstated [JURIST report] after the constitutional court certified results of a referendum where 74 percent of voters rejected Basescu's impeachment [JURIST report].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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