Romanian court rejects contested election law
Jan. 25, 2012, 7:25 p.m. | World
— by Associated Press
Romanian riot police officers stand next to a statue of noted Romanian playwright Ion Luca Caragiale, know for his ironic depictions of 19th century Romanian society and politicians, during an anti-government protest in central Bucharest, Romania, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania's Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that a law allowing simultaneous local and parliamentary elections is unconstitutional.
The court, which did not provide details on its ruling, rejected the law following a complaint from opposition parties and almost two weeks of anti-government protests — local and parliamentary elections have previously been held several months apart in the same year.
The government passed the law through Parliament in December, without debate. The opposition says the law would make it easier to commit fraud because it would complicate the election process, creating more confusion and making cheating easier. The government said organizing one ballot for two different elections would save money.
Thousands of people have staged anti-government protests in Romania over low living standards, widespread corruption, and the way some laws have been passed without parliamentary debate.
Following heavy criticism, lawmaker Iulian Urban resigned from the ruling Democratic Liberal Party — led by Prime Minister Emil Boc— after calling the protesters "worms."
On Wednesday, the U.S. Ambassador to Romania Mark H. Gitenstein criticized what he called high-level corruption in Romania.
"Profits from publicly owned enterprises are too often diverted back to state coffers or into the pockets of well-connected individuals," he said in a speech alleging public funds are sometimes illegally siphoned off.
President Traian Basescu is expected to give a speech Wednesday about the issues that led to the anti-government protests — often directed against the way he runs the country.
Many Romanians have become disenchanted with their once-popular president, saying he is too outspoken and has grown increasingly confrontational.