The signatory organisations of this letter show their concern and protest in regard to the dismissal of the Director of the Department for Controlling the Financing of Political Parties and Electoral Campaigns of the Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP). We believe that the decision is of political nature and it may affect the institution’s control, especially before the next two-year election period.
The dismissal comes as AEP has begun to carry out sustained controls on the money spent by political parties. We recall that DNA started a criminal case for illegal spending of subsidies by Mircea Drăghici (PSD treasurer), who was nominated by PSD for the position of president for AEP. As a result of civil society protests, this proposal has been withdrawn. At the same time, the controls concerning the subsidy of PSD in 2017 were suspended and postponed for August 2019 following the decision of the Court of Auditors.
The decision of the joint legal commissions of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate comes after a letter sent by the former Permanent Electoral Authority Chairman, Daniel Barbu, in October 2018 to the Permanent Bureaus of the two Chambers of the Parliament. Mr. Barbu resigned on February 18th 2019 as a result of his decision to run for the European Parliament elections on behalf of ALDE.
The Permanent Bureaus of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate submitted this letter to the legal commissions. On 26 February 2019, more than 6 months after the referral, the joint legal commissions adopted by a majority vote a joint opinion dismissing the Director-General of the Department for Controlling the Financing of Political Parties and Election Campaigns, Toma-Bogdan Costreie.
The reason for the dismissal is that, when the competition for the post of Director-General of the Control Department was organised, the application file was not complete, lacking a statement as to whether he had been a member of a political party in the past 5 years, according to Law 334/2006. Taking into account that the decision comes after two years of appointment, we ask ourselves how the mandate was validated under these conditions. Moreover, according to Law 7/2006, art. 67, the dismissal may occur in the following two cases: deviation or incompatibility. Therefore, it is not clear how the lack of a statement may be a reason for dismissal under the law.
This dismissal comes shortly after the Romanian Parliament has appointed as the chairman of the Permanent Electoral Authority a person whose activity is closely linked to the ruling party. Bearing in mind that in the next two years there will be four rounds of elections, it would have been necessary for Parliament to appoint a neutral person with a professional profile appropriate to the position of president of the electoral stage judge in Romania.
Taking all of this into consideration, we call for the Permanent Electoral Authority to not be transformed into a political institution, as it would lose the ability to hold elections fairly and independently and to continue the work of scrutinizing funding from subsidies and funding electoral campaigns without any interference.
Romanian Centre for European Policies
Centre for Public Innovation
Civic Resources Centre
Centre for the Study of Democracy
Geeks for Democracy
Frontline Club Bucharest
Maria Krause, election expert
Mircea Kivu, sociologist
Andrei Tiut, sociologist