2018 Romanian constitutional referendum

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Romanian constitutional referendum, 2018
6 and 7 October 2018

Do you agree with the Law on the revision of the Romanian Constitution in the form adopted by the Parliament?[1]
Location Romania
Response Votes %
Yes 3,531,732 93.40%
No 249,412 6.60%
Valid votes 3,781,144 98.03%
Invalid or blank votes 76,164 1.97%
Total votes 3,857,308 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 18,279,011 21.1%

A referendum took place in Romania on 6 and 7 October 2018 regarding the definition of the family in the Romanian Constitution. The referendum asked voters whether or not they approve a change to the family's definition as provided by Article 48 of the Constitution, to prohibit same-sex marriage.[2]

The referendum followed a citizens' initiative launched by Coaliția pentru Familie (the Coalition for Family) in late 2015 which gathered over three million signatures, substantially more than the 500,000 required to initiate the process for a constitutional amendment referendum. The Romanian Constitution defines the family as being founded on the free-willed marriage "between spouses", but the initiative's promoters sought to amend the gender-neutral language with an explicit reference to marriage as a union between a man and a woman.[3] Had the measure passed, it would have made same-sex marriage unconstitutional in the country. Romanian statute law does not permit same-sex marriage.[4]

The referendum failed as the turnout was only 21.1%,[5] below the required voter turnout threshold of 30%.[6][7]


The Government announced plans to hold a referendum in late 2017, following a successful citizens' initiative by a group opposed to same-sex marriage, Coaliția pentru Familie, which collected around three million signatures in support of banning same-sex marriage.[8] The Chamber of Deputies approved the initiative on 9 May 2017, in a 232–22 vote,[9] but no referendum took place that year.

In late March 2018, the Government announced that the referendum would be held sometime in May 2018,[10] though it later moved the date to 10 June 2018.[11] However, this date also passed without a referendum being held. Some Socialist lawmakers subsequently suggested that the referendum could be held in late September or early October 2018.[12][13] Liviu Dragnea, President of the Chamber of Deputies, announced that the referendum could be organized on 30 September or the first Sunday in October.[14] In early September, Dragnea announced that the referendum would take place on 7 October 2018.[15] The initiative was approved by the Senate on 11 September 2018.[16] On 14 September, Amnesty International, the European Commission on Sexual Orientation Law and ILGA-Europe filed a challenge with the Constitutional Court against the amendment.[17][18] On 17 September 2018, the Court decided to allow the referendum to take place.[19][20]

Previous referendums in Romania failed due to a requirement for a 50% turnout in order for the results to be valid.[21][22] This rule was changed in 2014 and the turnout threshold was lowered, to require only 30% of registered voters to participate in the referendum and 25% of voters to cast a valid (yes/no) vote for the result to be validated.[21]

The amendment was supported by many politicians and religious groups, but opposed by President Klaus Iohannis and the opposition Save Romania Union.[23] The final turnout was 21.1%, below the 30% threshold necessary to make it valid.[6] Many human rights activists called for a boycott, so as to maximise the chance of the referendum not meeting the minimum 30% turnout rate required in order for the vote to be valid.[24] A poll conducted the week before the referendum indicated a 34% participation rate, with 90% of those participating intending to vote yes.[25] The only question posed to appear on the ballot was whether the voter agreed with the constitutional amendment as approved by the Parliament, without the text of the amendment appearing on the ballot paper itself.[1]

Support and opposition[edit]

Position Political parties Political orientation Ref
checkY Yes Social Democratic Party (PSD) Left-wing populism [26][27]
People's Movement Party (PMP) Christian democracy
Social conservatism
United Romania Party (PRU) Romanian nationalism [29]
Greater Romania Party (PRM) Romanian nationalism [30][31]
Ecologist Party of Romania (PER) Green conservatism [32]
Christian Democratic National Peasants' Party (PNȚ-CD) Christian democracy [33]
Noua Dreaptă (ND) Clerical fascism [34]
☒N Boycott Save Romania Union (USR) Anti-corruption [35]
Green Party (PV) Green politics [36]
Romania Together Movement (RO+) Social liberalism [37]
Pro Romania Party (PRO) Social democracy, Social liberalism [38]
Democracy and Solidarity Party (Demos) Social democracy, Left-wing [39]
Steady Neutral National Liberal Party (PNL) Conservative liberalism [40]
Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (FDGR/DFDR) German minority politics [41]
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Liberalism [42]
Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) Hungarian minority politics [43]

The amendment was supported by many religious groups, including neo-Protestant groups,[44] and the Romanian Greek Catholic Church.[45] The Romanian Orthodox Church endorsed the initiative in mid-January 2016.[46][47]

Few politicians openly support civil partnerships or same-sex marriage in Romania. Exceptions include centrist-liberal President Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German (Transylvanian Saxon), who has said that as a member of an ethnic and religious minority, he supports tolerance and openness towards others who are different while rejecting religious fanaticism and ultimatums.[48] The opposition Save Romania Union (USR) also held an internal vote on the issue and decided to oppose the referendum.[35] The Romania Together Movement, led by former Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș, advised its supporters not to participate in the referendum, arguing it would limit rights and freedoms.[37]


Turnout by county. The highest turnout was recorded in Suceava County, in the north of Romania, whilst Covasna County recorded the lowest.

In the morning, the turnout was low at 5.72%.[49] Following the end of the voting period, the results of the referendum were determined on 6 October by 21:45 EEST, with Romanian election officials declaring that the referendum had failed due to a lower than required voter turnout rate of 21.1%.[50] The lower turnout came as a surprise, with polls predicting that turnout would fall somewhere around 34%.[51] Of those who did participate in the referendum, an overwhelming majority of more than 90% approved of the amendment.

Choice Votes %
For 3,531,732 93.4
Against 249,412 6.6
Invalid/blank votes 76,111
Total 3,857,308 100
Registered voters/turnout 18,279,011 21.1
Source: BEC
21.1% 78.9%
Turnout Not voted


Many commentators hailed the results of the referendum as being a victory for opponents of PSD leader Liviu Dragnea. Leaders of the Save Romania Union—a group which spearheaded the boycott movement—claimed that the referendum result constituted evidence that Romanians were in favour of further integration within the European Union, stating that Romania has shown it "is a tolerant and modern nation that refused in these last two days to take steps back".[52]

Supporters of the referendum from within the governing coalition lamented that the referendum's failure represented a failure of Romanian society as a whole to partake in civic engagement. Critics within the National Liberal Party—a party whose leadership had come out in support of the referendum—further accused party President Ludovic Orban of "pushing the party into a political failure" by pursuing policies which were outdated and out of touch with contemporary social circumstances.[53]

In popular media[edit]

In November 2018, Romanian singer Delia Matache released the single "Acadele" ("Lollipops"), which references the controversy around the LGBT community in Romania by repeating "Boicot, boicot" ("boycott, boycott"). She further alludes to the referendum in the line: "În dulcele stil clasic și deloc tradițional/Noi n-o ardem în plastic, noi facem totul natural" ("In the sweet classic style and not at all traditional/We don't live in plastic, we do everything naturally").[54]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Comunicat de presă - ședință de guvern - Guvernul a adoptat actele normative necesare bunei organizări a Referendumului pentru revizuirea Constituției". Guvernul României (in Romanian). 18 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Romania moves closer to ruling out possibility of legalizing same-sex marriage". Reuters. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  3. ^ "ARTICLE 48 - Family". Constitution of Romania. Chamber of Deputies. The family is founded on the freely consented marriage of the spouses
  4. ^ Adina Portaru. "Marriage at a crossroads in Romania" (PDF). Coalition for Family. Refer to pp. 30
  5. ^ Referendumul naţional pentru revizuirea Constituţiei din 6 și 7 octombrie 2018
  6. ^ a b "Prezența vot". Biroul Electoral Central. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Romanian constitutional ban on same sex marriage fails on low vote turnout". Reuters. 7 October 2018.
  8. ^ Marica, Irina (2017-09-04). "Romanian SocDem leader: Referendum for family redefinition to be organized this fall". Romania Insider. Retrieved 2017-09-05.
  9. ^ Marica, Irina. "Initiative changing family definition in Romanian Constitution, voted by the deputies - Romania Insider". www.romania-insider.com. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Referendumul pentru familie, probabil în mai, în paralel cu legiferarea parteneriatului civil". Digi24 (in Romanian). 26 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Propunere: Referendumul pentru redefinirea familiei, pe 10 iunie". Digi24 (in Romanian). 3 May 2018.
  12. ^ "PSD renunță la marele miting din luna iunie. Când ar putea avea, totuși, loc". Digi24. 13 May 2018.
  13. ^ Romania: PSD head announces referendum on amending the Constitution, Independent Balkan News Agency, 25 July 2018
  14. ^ "Liviu Dragnea anunță referendum pentru modificarea Constituției. Când ar putea fi chemați românii la vot". Digi24 (in Romanian). 24 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Referendum privind redefinirea familiei în Constituţie, pe 7 octombrie".
  16. ^ "Romania moves closer to ruling out same-sex marriage". Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Legal challenge over Romania's 'homophobic' gay marriage referendum". 14 September 2018. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Romania: Rights groups submit legal challenge against 'homophobic' referendum – Amnesty International USA". Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Romania is holding a vote on whether to permanently ban gay marriage". Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Romanian court gives go ahead for 'homophobic' referendum". Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  21. ^ a b "De câte voturi este nevoie pentru aprobarea unui referendum". Digi24HD (in Romanian). 23 January 2017.
  22. ^ Referendum for Referendums by Corneliu Visoianu, Romania’s Constitutional Court invalidated the ballot as it did not reach the 50% threshold required by law.
  23. ^ "Romania leader advises 'mature approach' after marriage vote". The National Post. The Associated Press. 9 October 2018.
  24. ^ Luiza Ilie: "Romania's vote to rule out same sex marriage stirs hate, say LGBT groups", Reuters, 2 October 2018
  25. ^ Revista 22: "Sondaj CURS: 90% dintre cei care merg la referendum vor vota pentru redefinirea familiei", 5 October 2018
  26. ^ Sebastian Rotaru (5 October 2018). "Minciuna săptămânii: PSD nu face campanie electorală pentru referendum". EurActiv (in Romanian).
  27. ^ Maria Tufan (1 October 2018). "PSD sponzorizează campania referendumului pentru familie prin spoturi publicitare". Adevărul (in Romanian).
  28. ^ Iulia Roșca (14 November 2016). "Traian Băsescu a anunțat ce face la referendum". HotNews.ro.
  29. ^ Press office PRU Cluj (2 October 2018). "PRU Cluj: Nu suntem împotriva nimănui, dar credem în familia care începe cu un El și o Ea". TurdaNews.
  30. ^ "Familia este foarte importanta ,familia traditionala romaneasca crestina, noi PRM pe 7 octombrie spunem DA". 21 September 2018.
  31. ^ "Răspunsuri la aproape toate dezinformările virale și intoxicările mediatice despre Referendumul din 6-7 octombrie". 1 October 2018.
  32. ^ "PER susține căsătoria dintre un bărbat și o femeie". 4 October 2018.
  33. ^ "Putem accepta sa devenim ne-oameni? Unii spun da, noi spunem NU! Mergem la Referendum!". 4 October 2018.
  34. ^ "Noua Dreaptă organizează "Marşul Normalităţii"". Radio România Actualități. 9 June 2018.
  35. ^ a b "Biroul Național al USR a validat rezultatul referendumului intern; partidul se va opune modificării Constituției pentru redefinirea familiei". News.ro (in Romanian). 14 August 2017.
  36. ^ ""O judecată dreaptă va decide". Ce vor să facă "Verzii", Bistriţa Civică şi comercianţii din centrul". Timp Online. 1 October 2018.
  37. ^ a b "Mișcarea România Împreună nu girează, prin participare, referendumul pentru familie". Mișcarea România Împreună (in Romanian). 12 September 2018. Archived from the original on 14 September 2018. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  38. ^ "Victor Ponta" (in Romanian). 7 October 2018.
  39. ^ "Drepturile nu se supun la vot!". Platforma Demos. 12 September 2018.
  40. ^ "Ludovic Orban doreste ca PNL sa fie neutru la referendum".
  41. ^ "Ovidiu Ganţ (FDGR), despre referendum: Să ne raportăm la acesta în funcţie de conştiinţa proprie".
  42. ^ "Referendum familie. Tăriceanu, decizie ALDE". DC News. 26 September 2018.
  43. ^ "Cum joacă UDMR-iștii la referendum". Cotidianul. 21 September 2018.
  44. ^ "Penticostalii susţin Coaliţia pentru Familie, dar critică Arhiepiscopia Tomisului. Membrii cultului, îndemnaţi să ia totuşi parte la Marşul pentru Viaţă". antena3.ro. 24 March 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  45. ^ "Scrisoare deschisă a Episcopilor catolici: Susţinerea demersului de declanşare a referendumului pentru modificarea art. 48, alin. 1 din Constituţia României". Coaliția pentru Familie. 6 May 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  46. ^ Stanca, Adriana (15 January 2016). "BOR sprijină OFICIAL iniţiativa de modificare a Constituţiei: familia, formată din BĂRBAT şi FEMEIE". realitatea.net. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  47. ^ "Romania moves closer to ruling out possibility of legalizing same-sex marriage". Reuters. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  48. ^ Raluca Pancu (19 October 2016). "Iohannis, mesaj pentru cei care vor redefinirea "familiei" în Constituție: E greșit să mergem pe calea fanatismului religios". Gândul (in Romanian).
  49. ^ "LIVE UPDATES: Romania's family referendum: 9 PM turnout – 5.72 percent; 1,046,583 voters". Business Review (EU). 6 October 2018.
  50. ^ "The Latest: Low turnout voids Romania marriage vote". The New York Times. 7 October 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  51. ^ Ilie, Luiza (7 October 2018). "Turnout low in Romanian vote on constitutional ban on same sex marriage". Reuters. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  52. ^ Anca, Gurzu (7 October 2018). "Romania's marriage referendum fails due to low turnout". Politico. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  53. ^ Cristea, Corina (8 October 2018). "Reactions after the referendum". Radio Romania International. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  54. ^ Neblea, Andreea (5 November 2018). "Delia, o nouă piesă cu substrat, "Acadele"" [Delia, a new single with undertones, "Acadele"]. Adevărul. Retrieved 15 December 2018.