PNL does not give up, for now, the idea of electing mayors in two-ballot elections, which irritated PSD. The two partners in the Union are also split over the Road Code and the project of decentralisation and regionalisation.
The Liberals have no intention to appease the heated controversy that splits the Social Liberal Union (USL) for some time, sticking to their opinions on certain draft laws which irritated their social-democratic partners. Although PNL president Crin Antonescu warned yesterday, in a press conference held after a meeting of the party leadership, that no liberal MP is allowed to submit a legal initiative anymore without previously informing the party leading structures, he added that he did not refer to the initiative of 63 liberal legislators on modifying the law for the election of the authorities of public local administrations, which stipulates the return to a two-ballot election for mayors and the indirect election of the County Council chief, by councillors. He explained that he referred to the draft law initiated by PNL senators Cristian Bodea and Valeriu Boeriu about prohibiting the shale gas extraction. The liberal leader mentioned that the shale gas related initiative is not approved by the party and urged the two senators to withdraw it. Antonescu added that the liberal members of the Parliament who made slanderous statements about their USL colleagues risk being ousted from PNL. The liberals’ initiative on the election of mayors came under the fire of PSD, with Deputy PM Liviu Dragnea stating yesterday that, in his opinion, those who make such a proposal are fearful. “This was not only about the proposal to modify the law of mayors’ election, but also a proposal – which actually upset me seriously – about reinstating the system of County Council presidents elected by county council members. There are two matters at hand: first, those who propose something like this are afraid. When you do not want to go before citizens, you, as a person, and ask them to vote for you, it means you have a problem,” said the social-democrat, quoted by Mediafax. He added that the modification requested by the liberals would mean a return to “old combinations” in which the decision is made by “smart guys” in Bucharest.
USL is also split by divergences on how to promote the new Road Code. After the meeting held yesterday by the liberals, the minister of Interior, Radu Stroe said that PNL favours the adoption of this code by emergency ordinance, but the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Valeriu Zgonea mentioned that the PSD group would prefer to see it adopted as a draft law, instead of emergency ordinance, along with increasing the severity of sanctions up to confiscating the car or withdrawing the license in the zones with serious accidents.
The Ministry of Interior, led by the Liberal Stroe, announced yesterday that it does not support the draft law of decentralisation, which would also affect the Ministry of Interior, a project initiated by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, led by the social-democrat Liviu Dragnea. MAI announces in a communiqué that the respective draft emergency ordinance was not submitted to minister Stroe, although MAI should be co-initiator of such an act. “In these conditions, MAI cannot support such a vision of decentralisation, which was not assumed by the government of Romania,” reads the document. The ministry also argues that the police system cannot be decoupled and subjected to several command centres, because it would lose its efficiency.
Deputy Prime Minister Dragnea stated yesterday that he sent the draft law on decentralization to the mayors, pointing out that subsequently he will meet them in order to give a final shape to the draft, adding that he unreservedly supports its stipulations.
Deadline on preliminary regionalization
According to USL sources quoted by Mediafax, Dragnea allegedly gave the Liberals an October 15 deadline in order for them to express their opinions on the preliminary regionalization draft. After that date he will send the draft to the government. The draft sent to PNL stipulates the setting up of Regional Development Councils, institutions preliminary to the regions and which benefit from a distinct juridical statute until the notion of region will be included in the Constitution. The structure of Regional Development Councils will juxtapose the configuration of the counties that will form a region, so that continuity in running programs funded with European funds will be achieved. According to Dragnea, he sent the draft to the Liberals a month ago, and he is still waiting for PNL’s point of view. “We ran in the 2012 elections jointly within USL, we didn’t ask the people to vote for PSD and PNL, we don’t know how that would have worked. So then I don’t believe it’s natural, if we respect the citizens that voted for us, for PSD and PNL each to come up with its own draft laws,” Dragnea said. He argued that we cannot have two draft laws on regionalization and decentralization and that, moreover, the legislative process can no longer be delayed. “If we do not enter this year with these two laws, next year it’s highly unlikely we could hope to adopt such laws when we will have two elections. This means we will lose another seven years… Who blocks, who brakes, should understand what negative effects they inflict on Romania,” the Deputy Premier emphasized.
Ilie Sarbu, the leader of PSD Senators, was trenchant too, admitting that the lack of communication within USL is visible and it has to be admitted and corrected. “The country is boiling with real problems and we are starting to have a hair-do! I don’t know if that’s good. (…) We have no interest (to break up USL – editor’s note), categorically we don’t. I’m not talking about the issue of the presidential candidate, our candidate is Crin Antonescu, but we cannot go on like this,” Sarbu stated on RFI.
In retort, PNL President Crin Antonescu said yesterday that the Liberals would deliver a point of view on the regionalization draft on October 15 or later on, arguing the decentralization aspects in the draft are not easy to solve in a few hours. He also stated that Dragnea’s draft is only “a proposal”, “a starting point”.
Another Liberal, the first-vice president Klaus Iohannis, also Mayor of Sibiu, opined that there would not be any regionalization this year, or the next one, as the Constitution will not be amended in order to allow the process.
PSD getting ready to govern alone?
Parliamentary sources quoted by Hotnews revealed yesterday that against the backdrop of a deteriorating relationship between PSD and PNL the break-up of USL is seen by many political leaders as a question of time and that consequently PSD is preparing its back-up option for the government’s support in Parliament. “The PSD’s medium and short-term goal is to ensure parliamentary support for a government without PNL and every vote is intensely negotiated. They cannot go blindly and by having negotiations on every law like the Boc Government did. The best method is to enlist those recruited either within PSD or within UNPR,” the aforementioned sources stated. According to those voices, the target of recruitment for new seats is Dan Diaconescu’s party, independent MPs and the negotiation of support with UDMR and the national minorities. On Monday a PPDD Senator defected to PSD, while a PPDD MP from the Lower Chamber defected to UNPR.