Romania Became More democratic. Pirates Allowed to Enter Elections

Romania Became More democratic. Pirates Allowed to Enter Elections

On Thursday, the Pirate Party of Romania (PPRO) won a court case against their government. The court decision removes the requirement of collecting signatures to register a political party. The news media in Romania (including prime-time shows on television) have reported on the court case and explicitly mentions PPRO as driving the initiative behind it.

Romania has often been mentioned as having some of the most restrictive legislation for registering a political party. This hinders the rights of its citizens to participate in the political life. A year ago, the Pirate Party of Romania (PPRO) filed papers to the Constitutional Court  about the unconstitutional limits to forming a political party in Romania:

“The list must contain at least 25,000 founding members residing in at least 18 counties and in Bucharest, but no more than 700 people for each of these counties and Bucharest”.

PPRO denounced the limitations as contrary to the Constitution which states, “citizens may freely associate in political parties, trade unions, employment and other forms of association”. The Pirate Party Chairman, Claudiu Mărginean, is well informed and searched Romanian and European legislations. He considered it a worthwhile effort to bring the case to the court, together with the other two founders of the Pirate Party of Romania.

Last Thursday, 26th February 2015, the Romanian Constitutional Court made a ruling on the complaint by PPRO. The Court decided that the article requiring 25,000 signatures on paper (from 18 different counties and containing personal data) is in breach of the Romanian Constitution and needs to be revised. Romania’s parliament has 45 days to change it, or else the registration request by the Pirate Party of Romania will be solved without the need for any signatures.

Although the law was attacked many times in the past, it was the Pirate Party complaint and the breach of EU data protection rules that brought the change that will benefit many others.