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Romania constitutional court: PM ignoring rule of law

The Constitutional Court of Romania [official website, in Romanian] on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Victor Ponta [BBC profile] and his leftist party, the Social Liberal Union (SLU), of attempting to seize control over the judiciary system. The court announced that it has alerted the European authorities [Reuters report] of the situation. The prime minister had ignored last week's decision by the court which found that his opponent, President Traian Basescu [official website, in Romanian], should represent the country at the European Council [official website] meeting in Brussel. The prime minister and his party had allegedly threatened to replace some of the judges. The court is seeking support from the country's parliament and the president to address the hostile action and maintain respect for the democratic norms and the principles of rule of law. Ponta is currently facing plagiarism claims related to his doctoral thesis published in 2003. He had rejected [BBC report] the allegations last week arguing that the claims are politically motivated. The opposition Democrat-Liberal Party (PDL) had challenged the electoral law arguing that it infringed upon the sovereignty of the people.

The same court has ruled several times on laws relating to the elections. In January, the court ruled [JURIST report] that a law allowing local and parliamentary elections to be held at the same time is unconstitutional. The law had been challenged of creating opportunities of fraud, cheating and confusion in the election process. In 2009, the high court declared [press release, PDF; in Romanian] incumbent president Basescu winner of the country's disputed presidential election [JURIST report]. He had been reinstated in 2007 after the high court certified results of a referendum in which 74 percent of voters rejected [JURIST reports] Basescu's impeachment.

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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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