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September 28, 2020
POLITICS

Coalition standoff over territorial reorganisation

The Democrat-Liberals stick to the 8 development regions project. UDMR wants 16 regions and threatens to quit the coalition. PDL might give up the confidence vote to avoid loosing the majority.

The negotiations that took place in the ruling coalition on the territorial reorganisation yesterday failed. While PDL wants to reorganise the country into eight super-counties the Union leaders propose 16 and insist that Harghita, Covasna and Mures should form a single entity, fearing the division of the country into eight big slices will have disastrous consequences on the cities that will no longer be county capitals.

UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor says the Union cannot accept the option of transforming the existing regions of development into eight ‘mammoth-counties’, because there are not enough arguments for that and warns that, if PDL insists on its project, there will be a problem in Parliament where it will no longer be in majority.

PDL, who initially had in mind a vote of confidence over the bill, might give up yet the thought of confidence vote, afraid of the information that PSD and PNL might support UDMR’s own territorial reorganisation bill which will lead to the Government’s fall.

Some PDL representatives thought right from the beginning that it was a mistake for Secretary General Ioan Oltean to state last week that the Executive would like to request a confidence vote on such a normative act.

On the other hand, President Traian Basescu has invited the parliamentary parties to a dialogue on the territorial reorganisation and Constitution revision on June 21, and surprisingly enough, the opposition said it would be present, but they say they will only go Cotroceni to express their total disagreement with President Basescu’s proposals.

The negotiations that took place in the ruling coalition on the territorial reorganisation yesterday failed. While PDL wants to reorganise the country into eight super-counties the Union leaders propose 16 and insist that Harghita, Covasna and Mures should form a single entity, fearing the division of the country into eight big slices will have disastrous consequences on the cities that will no longer be county capitals. In addition, UDMR says it cannot accept the version supported by PDL because it would not gather the necessary support in the country. Moreover, UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor says the Union cannot accept the option of transforming the existing regions of development into eight ‘mammoth-counties’, because there are not enough arguments for that and warns that, if PDL insists on its project, there will be a problem in Parliament where it will no longer be in majority. ‘No UDMR county or territorial organisation backs the project. As far as we are concerned, an open support for this project is impossible. (…) I do not know if PDL and PM Emil Boc want to request a vote of confidence on this. Without support in the coalition, they will not have majority in Parliament. Without a majority in Parliament, there will be no Government. Things are very clear,’ said Kelemen.

Early yesterday morning, PDL seemed to carry on with its plans of setting up eight counties and seemed keen to requesting a vote of confidence in Parliament. A confidence vote over a legislative package made up of a new map of Romania together with the national minorities’ statute before the autumn is the offer reportedly made by PDL to UDMR in the coalition meeting yesterday, Gandul daily reports, quoting PDL sources. Other sources quoted by Realitatea.net said PDL gave up the idea of the confidence vote in the evening. According to those sources, PDL was afraid of UDMR ultimatum, but also of the information that PSD and PNL might support UDMR’s own territorial reorganisation bill which will lead to the Government’s fall. “We heard that Ponta and Antonescu are willing to support UDMR’s 16 regions project just to break up the coalition and come to power (…) Initially, the confidence vote was our version, but now we have our hand tied. We are shocked”, said PDL sources.

UDMR: no

The leader of the UDMR group in the Chamber of Deputies, Mate Andras, was quoted by Realitatea TV as saying that the Union leader told PDL during the ruling coalition meeting yesterday that UDMR was not supporting the reorganisation of the territory into eight counties and that it would endorse its own bill already tabled in Parliament instead. ‘We oppose the reorganisation proposed by PDL. (…) PDL insisted on its version, but we had a very clear answer: <NO>,’ said the UDMR deputy. Asked what would happen if the Executive tried to push the reorganisation bill by requesting a confidence vote, Mate answered it would do that ‘only if a change of Government is wanted’. According to him, the partners in the coalition agreed to hold more talks on the project for administrative reorganisation.

UDMR political Vice-President Laszlo Borbely in turn said that this month there will be several rounds of talks on the topic of reorganisation. He added that decisions on such important matters ‘are not to be made overnight’. UDMR Senator Verestoy Attila pointed out that such a project requires impact studies and long-standing negotiations.

Proposed confidence vote, challenged

Parliamentary sources told Mediafax that some Democrat-Liberals think it was a mistake for Secretary General Ioan Oltean to announce that the Executive would like to request a confidence vote on such a normative act. PDL representatives think that a move like that would always incur the risk of a successful no-confidence vote introduced by the opposition. The fears of the Democrat-Liberals has been also fed by some of the statements made by the representatives of UDMR publicly announcing their intention to support a no confidence vote if the Executive requests a confidence vote on the bill. In addition, the PDL members say they have not seen the draft, nor do they know a lot about it. PDL Senator Vasile Blaga said yesterday after a meeting between PM Boc and PDL Senators that territorial reorganisation should not be done by asking a confidence vote, as this issue is “extremely important”.
Asked by Jurnalul National newspaper if he knows who did the impact studies for the project mentioned by President Basescu, even PDL Secretary General Ioan Oltean who came up with the idea of the confidence vote, said: ‘I do not know. It is the project of the president, not PDL’s. You should go and ask the president’.

Deputy PM Marko Bela told Mediafax on Friday that he had talked to PM Boc about the proposed administrative reorganisation of the territory made public by Ioan Oltean and he found out that ‘it was not PDL’s position’, but, most likely, Oltean’s proposal. ‘We have not been consulted. I asked PM Emil Boc if he had agreed with PDL. I found out that it was not PDL’s position, which means that Mr. Oltean probably made his own proposal. We did not agree on our positions in the coalition, probably such a concept is not in PDL either. There is an intention to which we agree that the current administrative division of Romania needs changing, that we need a new one. For the time being, we need debates for the crystallisation of a certain conception’, Marko Bela said. He added that the UDMR representatives support the setting up of 16 administrative entities, emphasising the fact that ‘a well clogged and consistent project’ is not yet crystallised in the coalition.

Ioan Oltean was the one to announce during a press conference on Friday that the Government might request a confidence vote for the normative act on the administrative reorganisation of the territory into eight counties, noting that the intention was to hold the 2012 local election in the context of the new legislation. Oltean also pointed out that the version with the eight regions would be within European parameters and would also meet requirements of EU funds absorption at a much higher and effective pace. Asked what the capitals of the eight counties would be, Oltean said those would be Cluj-Napoca, Brasov, Timisoara, Craiova, Constanta, Iasi, Ploiesti and Bucharest.

PDL coming against UDMR’s opposition, Premier Emil Boc had to announce that Oltean’s position was not also the position of the party. On Saturday, Boc also showed that the philosophy of his party started from the merger of counties and noted that the final version of the bill would be decided by the coalition. In his view, there is no EU obstacle preventing Romania from reorganising its territory and the country would keep the existing reporting modality to Eurostat.

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