Romania’s lower house of parliament, the chamber of deputies, voted on June 9 against anti-corruption prosecution DNA’s request to allow indictment of social-democrat prime minister Victor Ponta on charges of conflict of interest. The request received 120 votes in favour and 231 against, local media reported.
Addressing the chamber before the vote, Ponta asked MPs to disregard political dividing lines. “You know that as an MP I never voted when I believed that the authority of parliament or the cabinet was being abusively breached by another branch of government,” he said, as quoted by Romania Libera newspaper.
After the vote, opposition liberals said that the party could appeal the outcome at the constitutional court. Liberal parliamentary floor leader Ludovic Orban said that the party was looking into the matter, arguing that the vote was held not on the substance of the prosecutors’ request, but the report of the lower house’s legal affairs committee, which recommended rejecting the request.
President Klaus Iohannis, who called on Ponta to resign after the pending charges against the prime minister were made public last week, said that he regretted that “parliament became a protective shield for Victor Ponta, the individual, who is suspected of criminal activity,” as quoted by news agency Mediafax.
Prosecutors asked parliament to give its approval to press charges of conflict of interest against Ponta on June 5, but said he was also under investigation on suspicion of committing document fraud, tax evasion and being an accessory to money laundering.