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January 21, 2021

Administrative reorganisation of territory spars tension in PDL

The subject was discussed during a meeting between President Basescu and the leadership of the main ruling party Sunday night. PM Boc met with PDL MPs yesterday afternoon.

The PDL leaders were mandated to discuss with the ruling coalition partners (UDMR and UNPR) the drafting of a bill on the administrative reorganisation of the territory of the country, First Vice-President Gheorghe Flutur said after the meeting of the National Standing Bureau of PDL on Monday. He also explained the reasons behind the intention: the current organisation of the countries dates back to 1968 and Romania’s current priority is to expedite absorption of European funds.

Flutur noted that the territorial reorganisation would be conducted in keeping with the provisions of the existing Constitution and that, after consulting its ruling partners, PDL would identify the best way to implement it. Asked if the counties of Mures, Harghita and Covasna should merge into a single region as UDMR demands, Flutur avoided giving a straight answer: ‘We are discussing this with our allies, all in good time.’

Flutur also said that the topic of the administrative reorganisation of the country was going to be discussed in the coming few days, the intention being to adopt the law as soon as possible. Asked whether PDL would ask for the president’s opinion on the matter, Flutur answered it would. ‘Definitely yes, it is all about our partnership with the head of the state,’ Flutur said.

As a matter of fact, according to PDL sources, the subject was discussed with the president during a meeting with PM Boc and a few other important heads of the party, Sunday night. However, the intention of the ruling party is for the Executive to finalise the draft law as soon as possible has caused a bit of discontent in the party. If the law is adopted in the version supported by Traian Basescu and PDL, Romania would have eight regions and the current county councils and prefectures would disappear. That being said, it is quite easy to understand the opposition of both the PDL MPs and party county organisations who wouldn’t like to lose the existing positions in the counties, filled either by election or by appointment.

Trying to clam down the spirits in his party, Emil Boc met with the PDL MPs yesterday afternoon. The PM made no statement upon his arrival to the Parliament. The leader of the PDL deputies, Mircea Toader, did say that the subject of the meeting were the legislative priorities of the end of session – the national minorities law and the changes to the statute of civil servants. He said nothing about territorial reorganisation.

After the meeting, Boc underlined that territorial-administrative reorganisation is needed so that Romania does not undermine its own chances to draw in European funds. He underlined that decentralisation must go to all levels and that duties currently held by county councils should be transferred to town halls because that is where “citizens are closer to the administration.” “Counties in their current shape cannot put up with current challenges in order to bring European money and have coherent policies for investment,” Boc said. When asked whether there is indeed discontent among MPs over the topic, Boc only said that the matter is still under discussion and refused to make any other comments.

‘We did not discuss the reshuffling or change of PM’

While national media have said one of the topics discussed by the PDL leaders with the president on Sunday was the government reshuffling or the change of the PM, First Vice-President Gheorghe Flutur denied that yesterday.

He said the party leaders meet regularly with the head of state and that, on Sunday, the Democrat-Liberals talked about ‘matters on the current agenda’ and not reshuffling or a new PM. ‘We have enough and quite numerous meetings with the president of Romania, so we often discuss matters of current interest,’ Flutur explained. He pointed out that the ‘rumours’ about removing Emil Boc from the helm of the Government ‘were stories probably invented by the opposition for the summer.’

The same position was taken by the PDL Bucharest President, Elena Udrea, who said that the participants in the Sunday meeting had discussed the Constitution and the reform of the administration and that no discussions had been held about replacing the prime-minister in the previous weeks. ‘You should not fall in the trap of this information leading to speculation. There has been no discussion on replacing the prime-minister in the last few weeks,’ Udrea said. ­

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