Friday, June 26, 2009

Emergency ordinances

In one of its dying acts, the recently dissolved parliament (legislative branch) gave the government (executive branch) the power to issue emergency ordinances. An emergency ordinance is basically a piece of temporary legislation that has the force of law from the date it is introduced, but which has to be confirmed by Parliament within a certain period.

Article 6 of the Moldovan constitution states quite clearly that legislative, executive and judicial power are separate. The government is not allowed to wield both executive power (its day job) and at the same time wield legislative power (through emergency ordinances). Article 60 (1) states that Parliament is the only legislative authority of the state.

Art 106 (2) seemingly contravenes Articles 6 and 60 by allowing the Government to issue ordinances in domains which are not the subject of organic law. Domains subject to organic law include:

a) the electoral system;
b) organizing and conduct of referendums;
c) organization and functioning of Parliament;
d) organization and functioning of government;
e) organization and functioning of the Constitutional Court, the
Superior Council of Magistracy, the courts, contentious administration;
f) organization of local administration, of the territory and of the regime of local autonomy;
g) organization and functioning of political parties;
h) the establishment of the exclusive economic zone;
i) the general legal status of property and inheritance;
j) general employment relationships, trade unions and
social protection;
k) general education;
l) religious cults;
m) state of emergency, martial law and war;
n) crimes, penalties and the execution thereof;
o) the granting of amnesty and pardon;
p) other areas where the Constitution provides adoption of organic laws;
r) other areas where Parliament decides that organic laws are required

Now, why am I going on about this? The power of emergency ordinance, if unchecked, effectively gives the Grecianai government the power to rule by decree, without reference to Parliament or the People. In particular they will be tempted to enact measures designed to boost the PCRM's chances of winning the election. The opposition, civil society and especially the Constitutional Court need to be vigilant and ensure that, in the lead-up to the election, the government does not abuse its power by issuing ordinances in any of the domains covered by (a) - (r) above. One more item for our pre-election to-do list...

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