Romania: PSD decides on early elections as the Ministers’ hearings continue

Romania: PSD decides on early elections as the Ministers’ hearings continue

The PSD leadership held an informal meeting yesterday at the Parliamentary office of its transitional President Marcel Ciolacu, during which it decided that the MPs and senators of the party would be present in Parliament on the day the Prime Minister-designate Florin Citu’s government would request a vote of confidence. That is, they will secure the quorum but will not be voting in favor, leaving the PNL to vote in favor of its government, as it should, in order to stay in line with the Constitutional Court’s ruling.

Press reports indicate that the PSD leadership intends to comply with its agreement with the country’s president Klaus Iohannis to hold early elections, provided that municipal elections are held at the same time.

PSD leaders do not want to block early elections but have worked on more scenarios depending on how Ludovic Orban and the PNL decide to handle the issue.

The most important condition set by the PSD is for the local elections to be held on the same day as the parliamentary ones, deciding to secure the quorum but to vote against the Cițu government, so that its fall is secured. On the other hand, if that ends up being the case, it declares itself ready to consult Cotroceni with PRO România and ALDE on its side, as well as to propose a Prime Minister.

If the early-election journey continues, the PSD will need to make sure that the provision for the exercise of the right to vote in any constituency in the parliamentary elections will be removed by the Orban government’s emergency decree, against which the Ombudsman has appealed to the Constitutional Court. This provision affects the PSD’s electoral outcome, as its electoral base is mainly in the province, while those who work in large cities usually vote for the right.

There is, however, a third issue. The PSD leadership is facing the resentment of MPs and senators who disagree with the choice of early elections and could be voting in favor of the third Prime Minister-designate proposed by Klaus Iohannis. That is because too many of them who will not be re-elected and are not ready to lose their posts – and their privileges – for six months.

Defining when the 60-day deadline set by the Constitution begins to count, that is, whether it is at the time Klaus Iohannis gives out his first mandate and the briefs the Parliament on 10 February or later, is important in determining whether or not it is possible to hold local and parliamentary elections simultaneously. The matter will be clarified when the reasoning of the Constitutional Court judges’ decision is announced.

The period during which early elections can be held is June 21-28. Local elections should be held by the end of June at the latest – as the term of office of mayors and other elected officials expires. Prior to its fall, the Orban Government’s emergency decree stipulated that no more than five (5) days after the dissolution of Parliament the Government shall decide on the date, timetable, expenditure and measures for the smooth carry-out of the elections. In the event of early elections, the date is set at least 50 days before the vote. Sources within the PSD have explained that in order for the two elections to be held parallelly, the transitional Prime Minister Ludovic Orban must issue the decision within two days of the dissolution of Parliament. But there are some in Orban’s corner as well who do not seek early elections.

A third obstacle could also arise if the Constitutional Court’s decision on an urgent government decree to hold early elections, against which the Ombudsman has appealed, is delayed.

According to an article published in Evenimentul Zilei newspaper, PSD transitional President Marcel Ciolacu sent a letter to the President of the EU Commission on the changes Orban’s government made to electoral law shortly before the elections, which he posted on Facebook alongside the EU President Ursula Von der Leyen’s response, in which she stresses that such changes should not be made at least a year before the elections.

Meanwhile, the hearings of the Cîţu government ministers continue today. On the first day, three out of the six ministers who passed a hearing received a positive vote. Parliamentary sources estimate the date for the joint House and Senate meeting could be March the 9th. /ibna