Romania: Orban’s manipulations to achieve early elections

Romania: Orban’s manipulations to achieve early elections

Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban’s announcement yesterday that the election law would be changed to hold municipal elections in two rounds by assuming responsibility reflects the ruling Liberal Party’s (PNL) strategy for early elections.

The process of changing the electoral law by taking responsibility for the municipal elections provides that the Government will be presented to Parliament and the law will be adopted, without debate or a voting procedure. On the other hand, the main opposition will be able to file a motion of censure within three days.

If the motion for a vote is upheld the government will fall, and the way the local authorities are elected will not change. Should the Social Democratic Party (PSD) fail to garner the necessary votes (233) to approve the motion of censure, the government-amended law on the election of mayors in two rounds will be considered as passed.

PSD will then be able to appeal to the Constitutional Court, as the Constitution prohibits changes to the electoral law less than a year before the elections. The Government, however, believes that the change it is proposing five months before the elections will not be rejected by the Court as it is “in the right direction”. If passed by the Constitutional Court, the law would be ratified by the President of the country and take effect.

According to analysts, Orban must choose what he wants most. If it is early elections that he wants, the Liberal MPs, at least some of them, should help the PSD by voting on the motion of censure.

PSD and UDMR, which have thus far announced that they support the proposal, fail to reach the desired number 233 for less than 10 votes.

If the motion of censure is voted somehow, Parliament will have to reject two authorized Prime Ministers in order for the country to reach early elections. On the other hand, voting in favor of the motion would automatically mean rejecting mayors in two rounds.

If, on the contrary, the Government’s priority is to elect mayors in two rounds rather than heading to the polls early, PNL will be able to witness in Parliament PSD and UDMR failing to garner the necessary majority for the vote. In this case, the electoral law would in fact change, but it would not be the first step towards early elections.

There is however a “window” that allows the Government to win both early elections and mayoral elections in two rounds. No matter what happens, however, the final reason lies with the country’s Constitutional Court.

According to political sources, PNL estimates that the Constitutional Court will not block the change in the electoral law because the changes do not restrict the right to vote, but instead provide the mayors with more legitimacy.

On the other hand, PSD believes it will win since the changes are attempted too close to the elections. In addition, PSD controls 4 out of 9 Constitutional Court judges as does PNL. The winner will be decided by the judge appointed by UDMR.

The President of the country has stated in his statements that change has been something that Romanians have wanted for years, while experts in the Presidential Administration have assured him that he is not violating any rules. /ibna