Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday deepened tensions with the governing coalition as he announced he would challenge at the Constitutional Court a massive set of laws overwriting the rules of the judiciary and would notify the Venice Commission about them. He said attacks led by the governing Social Democrats (PSD) on the Judiciary resulted in a set of laws that do not comply with the rigors of a state of law or with the expectations Romanians have about the independence of magistrates.
The governing coalition used a special parliamentary commission to quickly pass a huge number of changes to the laws of the judiciary over the past several months. Observers, magistrates and foreign fora have warned that the changes are aimed at undermining the fight against corruption and weaken the judiciary, while protecting high profile politicians, including coalition leader Liviu Dragnea, against corruption investigations.
The President has long been called upon to act against the changes, but he postponed his intervention until now. The delaying tactics was noted in his speech today, when he urged the Constitutional Court judges not to hurry in judging his appeal.
His statement comes several days after he announce he no longer supported PSD prime minister Viorica Dancila and called for his resignation.
In his speech today, he said the "justice reform", as the changes are named by the PSD, was challenged by organisations of magistrates and worrying foreign partners.
"We cannot witness a quick rewriting of the Constitution passively", he said. And he said that the whole set of changes, adopted by the Parliament within a week, took four months and three Constitutional Court decisions to be corrected here and there.
He said the bills do not comply with the constitutional framework or European standards.
President Iohannis said that once the Court makes a decision on the issue, he would deliver a new analysis and decide whether a re-examination of the laws is needed.
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu, leader of ALDE, a minority partner in the governing coalition, was the first official to react to Iohannis' statements, saying they appeared to be aimed at slowing and postponing the application of the Justice laws.