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Bucharest
October 20, 2020
POLITICS

President proposes moratorium to unlock legislative activity

Opposition willing to observe moratorium if Deputies Speaker is dismissed. Democrat Liberals hold ground, reaffirm support for Roberta Anastase.

‘I must renew my call for responsibility made upon all political parties in the Romanian Parliament. Romania may be headed to a successful completion of its agreement with the IMF soon. The main objective of this agreement was to prevent derailments in the area of macro-economic balances. A successful completion of this agreement would mean that Romania has come out of crisis and has left behind the threat of macro-economic instability, it would mean that Romania has managed to implement a reform programme removing the consequences of economic behaviours and public policies in the field of the budget that were inappropriate to say the least’, Traian Basescu stated in parliament yesterday. Only the parties in the ruling coalition – PDL, UDMR, UNPR and the national minorities – were present for the meeting of the joint chambers, with the opposition refusing to attend.


The president came with a proposition for the parties to agree on a moratorium on the political battle to allow for the work of the parliament to be resumed as normal and fulfil, in 30 to a maximum of 45 days the latest conditions laid down by the agreement with the IMF it has agreed to carry out: the adoption of the unified wage law, of the pension law and of the 2011 state budget law. ‘If Romania successfully completes this agreement, it will regain creditworthiness on the foreign market’, Basescu said. The president explained that, by adopting the three aforementioned bills, Romania will be below the personnel expenditure threshold of RON 39 bn agreed with the IMF, EU and World Bank, will manage to curb arrears, keep its 2011 deficit a 4.4 per cent of GDP, continue investments by giving priority to viable ones, and so forth.


In his message, the president insisted on the fact that parties should institute the moratorium he was requesting for the sake of the national interest.


‘The path that we will take from now on depends on you. By your action, Romania can move towards the better or the worse. The decision is in your hands’, Basescu said. At the same time, he warned that any delay in making a decision on the proposed moratorium by parties would be working against Romania. Towards the end of his speech, the president expressed his confidence in the ‘wisdom’ of political leaders and said that, once the objectives of his proposed moratorium are fulfilled, ‘Romania will already be on the right track’.


‘I hope you will make the correct decision. As an experienced politician, I can tell you Romanians will value those who will fight with the crisis and not those who prefer to hide from the effects of the anti-crisis measures’, was the president’s conclusion.


OPPOSITION SNUBS PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS


The Social Democratic Party (PSD), National Liberal Party (PNL) and Conservative Party (PC) announced even since as early as yesterday morning, after the joint standing bureau meeting of the two Houses that decided the president would read his message to Parliament at 3:00 pm, they are not going to attend the session. “We won’t attend the session, as it’s been a long time since this president no longer has been the president of all Romanians and hasn’t held the opposition as a factor of democratic progress. We know the president’s messages. He would likely read a message related to the coalition staying united in order to vote in favour of the education law, and thus satisfy the wish of a certain member in the ruling coalition,” the Chamber of Deputies Social-Democrat Whip Mircea Dusa said. Speaking of the legislative deadlock, Dusa said that, “had the president been willing for that to happen, he would have done it long before.” According to PSD, Traian Basescu should address his own parliamentary majority, ‘who is acting against the population”. For his part, the Lower House Chief Liberal Whip, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, said that the Liberal parliamentary groups decided against attending the joint session of the two Chambers, as the president’s behaviour to Parliament makes PNL’s attendance ill-timed. “We won’t attend this session, as we notice every day how Romania’s president would not observe the constitutional provisions over his mediating, unbiased, role between state powers. Quite the opposite, he plays the role of a party president, of the PDL , he sometimes plays the role of premier, is permanently infringing on his constitutional duties,” Tariceanu said, adding that the president’s latest statements are equivalent with very serious encroachments on how he understands to do his duties.” “We hold the president’s coming before the two Chambers of Parliament as absolutely inappropriate. The head of state can only address the legislative body in his capacity as a representative of the people, a capacity Mr. Basescu lost long before. It is obvious to everybody that he no longer represents the national interest about which he does not hesitate referring any time he has the opportunity to do so. Traian Basescu represents his own interests exclusively and the party interests of those around him,” Daniel Constantin, President of the Conservative Party, said in his turn.


PONTA SAYS BASESCU’S APPEAL TARGETS THE MAJORITY, NOT THE OPPOSITION


Answering a question about whether she considers resigning in order to remove the gridlock in the Lower House proceedings, Chamber of Deputies speaker Roberta Anastase said on Tuesday that “only the wisdom of leaders will unblock the situation,” adding that such compromise is uncommon to politics. If the opposition rejects a moratorium that will not depend on her resignation, the Parliament will go on with the existing majority, Anastase added. The leader of the PDL group in the Chamber of Deputies, Mircea Toader said PDL hopes that all the parties represented in the Parliament will answer President Basescu’s appeal, adding that the Democrat-Liberals are willing to unblock the Parliament proceedings. In his turn, the executive vice-president of UDMR – and Environment Minister – Laszlo Borbely said the Union agrees to the moratorium proposed by President Traian Basescu, which however needs to be accepted by all the sides in conflict. He added that talks must be held with the opposition, as the Education Law is on debate in the Senate and UDMR already made it clear that it will leave the current ruling coalition if the Law is not adopted by the end of the year. Asked about whom should invite parties to consultations, Borbely answered that the president voiced his point of view in Parliament and, if nobody else issues the invitation, UDMR will do it. PSD President Victor Ponta said his party is willing to participate in debates on the laws that are important for the country, but it must be sure that the Lower House speaker is correctly counting the ballots. He thus alluded to the vote on the Pension Law, when House Speaker was accused of miscounting the ballots. “From what I’ve seen, the president (Traian Basescu) spoke to the ruling coalition, so it is up to them to unblock the Legislative,” the PSD leader explained. On the other hand, Ponta described as “ridiculous and childish” the president’s attempt to blame everything that goes bad in the country on opposition parties, as only “dictators” are angry with the opposition. Answering the moratorium proposal made by Basescu, Victor Ponta demanded “a moratorium against the generalised corruption” which controls today’s Romania, with “public money going only to PDL and its clientele.” “We are making the laws for Romania, and not for the IMF,” Ponta concluded. But as Ponta was making statements, Democrat Liberal Elena Udrea reiterated the party’s firm support for Anastase. “Mr. Ponta should not have been absent. It would have been better if he had stayed in the hall and understood exactly what the president said,” Udrea added.


In his turn, Liberal leader Crin Antonescu rejected Basescu’s call for a moratorium, underlining that the president is now a “weak” politician who can no longer control anything. “It’s not with Basescu and from Basescu that solutions to the Romanian crisis can emerge, but, like it or not, from parliamentary parties,” Antonescu said, calling on all parties, from the ruling coalition and the opposition, to work together in view of giving a new governing formula to the country.

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