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January 21, 2022

Kelemen Hunor, elected as new UDMR President

First statements suggest he will carry on the policy of his predecessor, Marko Bela. PM and opposition leaders gave speeches.

The tenth UDMR congress held in Oradea on Saturday and Sunday decided the next president of the formation, Marko Bela having refused to run for the sixth consecutive time.

The 555 delegates with the right to vote had the following preferences: 371 were in favour of Kelemen Hunor, a candidate supported by the former UDMR president, 118 voted for the president’s adviser on minority matters Eckstein-Kovacs Peter and 47 were for the leader of the Hungarian deputies in Parliament, Olosz Gergely.

Kelemn Hunor won the election in the first round with absolute majority. After the vote, the new president said: ‘I thank you for your confidence. I wish to thank the 10,000 people who have supported me. I want to be the strong president of a strong Union. I thank all the people who have worked around me in the last years. I thank Marko Bela for the trust he put in my since I joined UDMR in 1997.’
Marko Bela, in turn, expressed his satisfaction for the results of the ballot: ‘I have hoped for a percentage like this. We have a new president I known will make changes and improvements. The election also means a continuation of UDMR’s policy of dialogue and cooperation with the political representatives of Romania.’

The former UDMR leader also explained what his future position in the party would be: ‘I will hold no office, but I will be able to participate and will be a member on the operational leadership of UDMR. Apart from being a MP – I am a Senator and wish to attend the works of the Senate – I do not want to have any other office in UDMR.’

Kelemen Hunor announced the first measures he would take in his new capacity: ‘We are opening a new chapter on Monday. We will be preparing ourselves for the local elections in 2012. UDMR is and will be open, will receive everyone, will be attentive to the needs of any community. Please accept the hand I am reaching from this rostrum to every organisation in process of being set up, ready to undertake a role in politics. We need to go together, we need to be united. We will only be successful if we develop fair relations with the Hungarian Government, with FIDESZ, KDNP and with the opposition parties in Hungary. We wish to assist and we need assistance, but the relationship needs to be a partnership. I promise I will be a good president for a good Union.’

His personal and political profile is similar to his predecessor’s, Marko, with the only difference being that they each belong to different generations. Born on October 18, 1967, in the locality of Carta (Harghita County), Kelemen Hunor graduated in 1993 the Cluj University of Agricultural Sciences – the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Babes-Bolyai University – the Faculty of Philosophy in 1998. From 1990 to 1997 he worked as an editor for Radio Cluj – the Hungarian language programmes, and from 1993 to 1997 he was an editor of the cultural magazine ‘KORUNK’. He is now at his third consecutive term as deputy of Harghita. Kelemen Hunor was also the chairman of the UDMR Coordination Council in 1999 – 2007 and, in 2007, was elected as executive president of the Union. From 1997 to 2000 he was secretary of state with the Ministry of Culture and since December 2009 he has been Minister of Culture in the Boc Cabinet. He participated in the presidential elections of November 22, 2009, where he obtained 3.83 per cent.

One important aspect of the Oradea congress was the presence of parliamentary party leaders.
In his address, Prime-Minister and PDL President Emil Boc thanked UDNR, Marko and UDMR’s ministers, expressing his conviction about the fact that, ‘together’, they would harvest the ‘fruits’ of the difficult decisions having been made in this term. The PDL president also noted that ‘the professionalism, consistency and reliability’ had made UDMR a party respected on the political stage as well as a credible ruling partner. Boc further said the current coalition would have the chance to pick the political fruits of the measures taken in 2010 and win the following election, thus continuing to rule the country.

UNPR Honourary President Cristian Diaconescu, in turn, thanked UDMR and stated that, thanks to it, ‘Romania had never entered a radical phase’, and that the majority minority relations in the country were a model in the area of ethnic minorities in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Diaconescu said he was convinced that UDMR would continue to be ‘a wise partner’ also after the congress.
Having stated in his speech his interest in a future cooperation with UDMR, after the vote, referring to concrete agreements, PSD President Victor Ponta said: ‘There have been no talks, they would have been unbecoming before the election, but we will definitely hold some after this election and the message I and Crin Antonescu have passed is very clear: we are not putting in an offer, we are not soliciting in love UDMR, but, if UDMR wants to walk with ISL down its path it would be very good, if not, we will respect their decision.’

PNL President Crin Antonescu disavowed UDMR’s current political option, but remained open for future cooperation. ‘Why would I, a leader of the opposition, be present for the congress of a party that belongs to a majority which, as far as I am concerned, is illegitimate, as well as to a government myself and my party detest? We all have, Mr. Prime-Minister, your optimism which we envy, but which we cannot share. I thought it appropriate for me to be here out of respect for the Hungarian community in Romania whose authentic and legitimate representative UDMR has been, is and will continue to be.’

PC President Daniel Constantin said, after its congress, UDMR would have the opportunity to make the difference between a prolonged crisis and return to economic growth and added that the decision the Union would make after its internal election would influence the lives of 22 M Romanians. Constantin stated the future president of UDMR should now the political decisions it would have to make in the upcoming period were not going to be easy.

In his message, President Traian Basescu expressed his solidarity both with the Hungarian community and with UDMR policy. ‘Please receive my sincerest appreciation of all Hungarians who are trusty and industrious people, as well as of the UDMTR members who have been reliable partners during difficult times when many others would have preferred to back off, stand on the sidelines and criticise the people struggling to push Romania out of crisis. (…) UDMR remains a political formation of the equilibrium, that ahs brought its essential contribution to the difficult reform process. Important laws have been adopted in the area of healthcare and education, which strengthen local autonomy. I am one of those politicians who have supported decentralisation towards greater autonomy of local governments. Through dialogue, we have been able to come up with the best version of the Education Law, going beyond specific nationalistic rhetoric and aware of our inability to please absolutely everybody.’

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