Romania's constitutional court ruled Wednesday that a sweeping new education law is illegal, dealing a blow to the government after it pushed the legislation through without the approval of parliament.
The court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it was too important to not be voted on by lawmakers. The ruling Democratic Liberal Party and its partners used a loophole to pass the huge package of education reforms, which seek to de-emphasize exam results, give wider access to the poor and minorities and cut costs.
The opposition parties, who have called for the resignation of Education Minister Daniel Funeriu, hailed the decision. They accuse the party of trying to politicize the education system, by including a provision that allows teachers to belong to political parties, which is currently illegal.
They also argue there would be fewer schools in rural areas due to cost-cutting measures consolidating rural schools, and too much emphasis on ethnic minority rights. Minorities would be exclusively educated in their native language in areas where they were in the majority.
The ruling party governs in a coalition with a party that supports the rights of the country's 1.4 ethnic Hungarians.
The ruling party maintains the law was meant to modernize education, with the student being judged on performance during the year, not just on exam results. There would also be financial help for poorer families with very young children.
Government spokeswoman Ioana Muntean said the government would consult with parliament about the legislation.