An absurd referendum

Andra Sonea
4 min readOct 5, 2018


On 6th and 7th of October, in Romania will take place a Referendum for the modification of the Constitution. I feel uneasy to describe in a logical way what this referendum is about because the manipulation is so obvious and so extensive that I feel the need to reassure you after every fact that this is actually true even if illogical.

For those not interested in that part of the world, I would say that you should precisely watch what is going on because from what I observed in the past five years, the techniques of mass manipulation applied in UK and US are tested first in marginal markets/territories/democracies.

In normal circumstances, each referendum will have its own law where at least the following four points would be defined:

- Who has the right to participate in the referendum

- What is the question

- If the referendum is mandatory or advisory

- With what percentage the referendum will be considered settled/ a win.

The referendums as political mechanisms are portrayed by populists as “the voice of the people” however they are wide open for abuse. The intention is to settle “for good” a long running debate in the society which is not usually part of a governance programme. In order for the question to be settled, the percentage for winning is usually well over 50%, more towards 70%. Also, the referendum can be called only by the majority in power and one has to ask themselves what is so contentious that needs a referendum and cannot be passed though normal democratic processes.

Romania has at the moment a government which is more corrupt than everything we’ve had before. Even if they label themselves social-democrats they could not be further from this way of thinking. Most ministers have a precarious education, they are corrupt, some even condemned for corruption, have no experience in the domains they are supposed to be experts. The Prime Minister, a puppet of the leader of the party in power, cannot read long words. For ten years before ’89 she was a teacher of vocational training in a city with a population of 11000. Then she was a MEP in Brussels. Now, she leads a country.

This corrupt government full of illiterate minsters, decided to organise a referendum next week. The referendum is apparently to modify the Constitution so “the sanctity of the marriage between a man and a woman is defended”. Yeah. Right. In reality this is not defined in the Constitution but in the Civil code. What is going on in fact?

So, briefly (because my blood boils) this is how they play this:

The Referendum Law

Our Parliament wants to be very efficient. Instead of creating a law for THIS referendum they adjusted an old law (Legea 3/2000) and they are supposed to use it for all referendums from now on when they want to modify the Constitution.

Who has the right to participate in the referendum

All Romanian citizens over 18 years old by 6th of October. People who lost definitively their rights to vote by law are not allowed to vote.

What is the question

The question is, no kidding, “Do you agree with the modification of the Constitution in the form adopted by the Parliament?” Which law? What modification? Which Parliament? This can be your guess. How people buy this and they go to vote Yes” is beyond me.

Is the referendum is mandatory or advisory

As per the modification of the Referendum Law 3/2000, all the referendums will be mandatory in their application. We don’t do advisory stuff.

Now, a bit more of a background into this.

Since 2015 an organisation called “Coalitia pentru familie” (Coalition for the family) started a procedure to call for the modification of the Constitution (Art 48.1) in order to replace the term “spouses” with “man and woman”. More precisely, this article says that “The family is founded on the consensual marriage between spouses”. The Coalition cannot sleep at night because of this. They want to make sure that gay marriage is not possible in Romania by Constitution.

In order to do this, they gathered three million signatures on paper. 3 million? Yes, I am ashamed to say. How? How was this possible I asked my mum. She said that every Sunday at every church in Romania the priests will “invite” everybody to sign.

The propaganda around this is very professional though. The videos. The threats. “You are not a Christian if you don’t vote yes”. “Gay people will corrupt your kids.” Whoever is interested in propaganda, this is a good case study.

So, my people will go to vote in the referendum on 6th and 7th of October. My parents will boycott the vote and I thank them that they are still sane in that environment. 200.000 Romanians left the country this year. There are 4 to 12 million Romanians living abroad depending how you count. The average salary in 2018 is 510 EUR/month. The referendum might cost well over 20 million EUR.

People leave the country because of the massive corruption which destroys their lives. Surely a “bit” of populism and homophobia is good given that somehow the right wing nationalism did not yet catch.



Andra Sonea

Banking Systems Architect. Curious. Antifragile.