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Romania court nullifies law changing electoral system

The Constitutional Court of Romania [official website, in Romanian] on Wednesday rejected a law that would have changed the country's electoral system, deeming it unconstitutional. The proposed system, which is based on first-past-the-post voting, would have replaced the mixed majority and proportional system currently in place. It was planned to be implemented for the upcoming November elections. The ruling leftist Social Liberal Union (SLU) had passed the proposed change that would have given its leader and the country's Prime Minister Victor Ponta [BBC profile] a heightened chance of winning the upcoming elections. 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 Romanian President Trian Basescu [BBC profile] 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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