Romania's PSD split over proposed referendum on gay marriage

By bne IntelliNews November 5, 2016

Two senators from Romania’s Social Democratic Party (PSD) submitted a draft bill on a referendum to amend the Constitution on November 4, after 3mn Romanian citizens signed a petition saying that marriage should be defined as a union between and a woman. 

The referendum could be organised on the same day as the December 11 general election, and that could have a significant impact on the vote. The controversial topic would also distract people’s attention from issues such as the candidates’ problems with the law.

Currently, the Romanian Constitution simply says marriage is a union between two people, which does not rule out same-sex marriage. 

The referendum quickly became a hotly debated issue within the PSD. The party’s president Liviu Dragnea said that the party does not want the referendum to take place on the same day as the general election and asked the two senators who submitted the draft bill, Titus Corlatean and Ovidiu Dontu, to withdraw it, according to Agerpres news agency.

“PSD does not back such a draft bill. The debate is very profound and the topic is very profound and I don’t want the debate and the discussions on the referendum topic to be mixed up with the campaign,” Dragnea said.

The Romanian Constitutional Court is expected to rule on November 29 if the marriage between a gay couple, which took place in Belgium, can be recognised in Romania, according to Hotnews.ro. The decision has already been postponed several times.

However, for the PSD, the debate appears to be more closely focussed on the party’s chances in the election, where it currently has a healthy lead in the polls. 

Although Dragnea has said he does not want the two votes to be held on the same day, the gay marriage issue could provide a welcome distraction for some PSD candidates, who are being investigated by prosecutors over corruption allegations. Dragnea, who could be the PSD’s proposal for the prime minister post if it wins the elections, has already been given a suspended sentence for the manipulation of the vote in a previous referendum.

Moreover, the organisation of the referendum the same day as the general election could increase the number of voters and thus diminish the chances of smaller parties reaching the 5% threshold to enter the parliament.

 

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