Romania: Government’s decision to assume responsibility for legislation reforms in regional elections sparks political controversy

Romania: Government’s decision to assume responsibility for legislation reforms in regional elections sparks political controversy

Following Prime Minister Ludovic Orban’s announcement on Thursday of the government’s decision to assume responsibility for the bill that provides for local elections to be held by a two-round voting, he spoke on the B1 TV channel where he had the opportunity to develop his thinking that led to this choice: “I think it is not normal to change the electoral system by an emergency decree. Accountability is better [of an option] because it enables Members and parliamentary groups to table amendments and, secondly, because it allows those who are dissatisfied with this legislative act to submit a motion of censure and prevent the adoption of the bill”.

The Social Democratic Party (PSD) reacted immediately through its interim President, Marcel Ciolacu: “With the Romanian Democratic Union of Magistrates (UDMR) we will file a motion of censure. We will create a new majority, but the PSD will not propose a Prime Minister”.

President Klaus Iohannis said yesterday in a press release that he supported the Government’s move to take responsibility for the mayoral bill in two rounds. He added that the government-sponsored document would soon be sent to Parliament and he would be calling for the Parliament to convene an extraordinary session. The Head of State also argued that the two-round mayoral election plan did not conflict with any rules and constituted an amendment that provided voters with more choices. President Iohannis was asked if he had received assurances from Prime Minister Ludovic Orban that  a motion of censure would not be passed, to which he replied: “I do not think the Prime Minister or anyone can guarantee whether it will pass or not. This is a parliamentary process that has not yet started; we are talking about something that does not exist. The only thing we can be sure about is the Government’s commitment”, the Head of State stressed.

On the censure proposal announced by PSD, President Klaus Iohannis said he remained quite skeptical. “The statements were made in the heat of the moment and everybody was either in favor or against it. As for the motion of censure, I must say that I remain quite skeptical”, the President said. Iohannis showed that it would seem odd to him to have a PNL vote against Orban’s government. “It’s not just PSD that overthrows its own government”, the Head of State added.

“It constitutes a courageous step to support the People’s Party (PMP)”, party leader Eugen Tomac told Agerpres.

In turn, the head of the Save the Romania Union (USR) welcomed “the Government’s decision to assume responsibility for returning to the voting system of two rounds for local elections. After all, this was one of the key preconditions we set for our votes to approve the creation of today’s cabinet”.

Pro România President Victor Ponta drew attention to the fact that the Government’s ruling could be overturned by the Constitutional Court.

Liberal Alliance of Democrats (ALDE) posted on Facebook that it believed the Government’s decision to take responsibility to be “unfortunate”. The party reckons that “the issuance of an extraordinary decree could come into force immediately”. ALDE draws attention to the fact that a possible downfall of the Government following the adoption of a motion of censure will hinder the implementation of the new law due to the maintenance of existing legislation. ALDE President Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu said in a phone interview on the Romanian channel TVR that “imposing early parliamentary elections by assigning responsibility for the election of mayors in two rounds would block the Romanian administration for four months”.

Deputy Prime Minister Raluca Turcan also expressed her conviction that the censure proposal announced by PSD would not be approved. Raluca Turcan explained the Government’s position not to approve an extraordinary decree on the election of mayors in two rounds because PSD could speed up procedures in Parliament to reject the decree. In addition, Miss Raluca Turcan said the referral to the Romanian Constitutional Court (CCR) on the election of mayors in two rounds would not have any real “content”./ibna