Romanian government survives no-confidence vote

By way of Southeast European Times. The vote was 246-214. By surviving the vote, the government may now automatically implement a package of health system reforms that it had invoked special powers on.

Romania has a semi-presidential system: Directly elected president, but most governing powers in the hands of a prime minister and cabinet dependent upon parliamentary confidence (similar to France). I had not previously been aware that Romania had a formal procedure whereby the government may avoid a direct vote on one of its bills. Sometimes called the ‘guillotine‘ procedure in France, the government may invoke the right to implement a bill by decree, forcing the parliament to confront the following choice:

Accept the bill, or oust the cabinet.

Of course, in all parliamentary and most semi-presidential systems, a cabinet may engage its own confidence on almost any measure. But the standard mechanism requires ordinary parliamentary debate on the bill, after which the government resigns if it loses. The ‘guillotine’ procedure means that the debate is on the parliamentary majority’s confidence in the government, and if the government wins that, there is no further debate on the bill itself.

The guillotine thus allows the government’s own majority to enact the bill passively, in a process in which it is defending its own government and its broader program, but not necessarily the substance of the bill.

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