Referring to the Liberals’ bill drafts on decentralization and elections, Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea said he was profoundly dissatisfied with the collaboration with PNL within USL.
New conflicts rose within USL, generated by the fact that PNL MPs (63 senators and deputies) submitted an initiative to amend the law on selecting local public administration officials from September 18, thus proposing a return to the two-ballot voting system for mayors and the indirect election of the head of the County Council (CJ) by councilors. The proposal is aimed at reintroducing the two-ballot voting system for mayors if none of the candidates achieves 50% plus one votes, and the indirect election of County Council Chairmen by county councilors. An additional provision is expected to be included, according to which “councilor and mayor elections are valid, regardless of the number of participants to the vote”.
Sources within PNL and cited by Mediafax claim the two-ballot election of mayors and the reintroduction of the indirect election of CJ Chairmen have been discussed at the last meeting of PNL leaders and it was decided not to commit to these changes at party level, but to discuss the matter within USL.
PNL leader Crin Antonescu seems to support the initiative. On a visit to Satu Mare on Friday, he stated it was logical to have a two-ballot voting system for mayor because it ensures the electoral will is better represented and if the electoral law is amended, it would not be equated with favoring one party or the other. The Social-Democrats, represented by Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea and spokesperson Catalin Ivan, announced they would not be supporting PNL’s initiative to amend the local administration law, adding that a discussion must be had with the Liberals to clear the air as soon as possible.
“This cannot go on. This country cannot continue to be governed in this way. (…) We are willing to move forward with USL and achieve the political objectives set in the USL program, which we presented in 2011 and agreed to in good faith; if that is not possible, we must make a decision, not deceive the citizens,” Dragnea stated, as cited by Mediafax.
PSD spokesperson Catalin Ivan agreed with the Deputy Prime Minister’s displeasure with PNL’s bill draft on local elections and stated PSD backs him, because as long as the Social-Democrats keep their promises and prove loyalty as partners, they expect the Liberals to do the same.
Antonescu: There’s plenty for USL to clarify before it can move forward
Antonescu’s quick reply was that he agrees with Liviu Dragnea that there is plenty for USL to clarify before it can move forward. He said the amendment of electoral laws is not on the government agenda, but it was agreed upon at USL level to have a discussion “on the package of electoral laws”.
According to the PNL leader, major initiatives should be discussed among party leaders and, for this reason, the subject of PNL MPs’ initiative was brought up at the Permanent National Bureau (BPN) meeting. Antonescu also claims there are major political acts with past and present “unpleasant” consequences, which have not been consulted upon within USL. He mentioned he will not make them public, but communicate them to Liviu Dragnea in person. In a statement made at Sighetu Marmatiei, Crin Antonescu said if the Deputy Prime Minister wishes to discuss the electoral law at once, he would do so “for him, out of respect and solidarity”, although there are more pressing matters at hand, such as Rosia Montana or the Forestry Code.
In relation to Dragnea’s statements saying he had submitted the regionalization draft to PNL and had not received an answer, the Liberal refused to comment, “(…) no one has any reason to persecute Mr. Dragnea. That much is clear.” Asked to what extent PNL’s latest message – that regionalization goes “hand in hand” with revising the Constitution – supports the Social-Democrats’ intention to make regions operational and give them intermediate legal status before the fundamental law is actually modified, Crin Antonescu replied that regionalization can only be carried out after the Constitution is revised and the term of region is included in the fundamental law. The topic is scheduled to be discussed today within USL. Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea stated he would not give up on the regionalization project, which must be discussed and agreed upon by USL members. He added that the role of the development region must be redefined this year, in order not to remain indifferent to a possible blockage of the country’s development.
Blaga: It’s clear that Antonescu should be ousted
PNL leader Vasile Blaga said the PNL MPs’ proposal on mayoral and CJ Chairman elections proves that “Antonescu has changed his strategy and should be ousted because the Liberals probably know they themselves would be ousted in spring, after winter costs will have been paid”. “Electoral promises don’t pay the bills, Romanians do”, Blaga stated. He added the Liberals “stand most to gain from the current voting system” and this is why they have changed their strategy and came up with this proposal.