Coalition reached consensus on merging elections

According to the bill, the election date is to be set by government resolution on a Sunday at the end of 2012.

The coalition will decide by the end of the week the best method to push the bill for the merging of parliamentary and local elections. “The coalition decided to back a bill referring to the organization of local and parliamentary elections simultaneously at the end of 2012. By the end of the week, we will also decide on the means to push this crucial bill through,” the senior deputy president of the Democratic-Liberal Party (PDL), Gheorghe Flutur, stated yesterday in a press conference. According to Flutur, by merging the local and parliamentary elections the election campaign would be shortened and EUR 23 M would be saved.

As regards the method of pushing this bill, Flutur argued one option was the Government’s taking responsibility. In turn, Interior Minister Traian Igas, whose ministry initiated the bill, argued yesterday that no decision concerning taking responsibility has been made as yet at Government or coalition level, adding that the bill is currently up for public debate and would be “enhanced” before being addressed in the Cabinet. According to “Romania Libera”, the Interior Ministry’s bill came in for criticism both from the opposition and from within the ruling coalition.

The two Democrat-Liberal members’ clarifications come a few hours after statements made by the leader of Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) senators, Fekete Andras Levente. According to the latter, the Government will take responsibility in Parliament on the bill to merge parliamentary and local elections and the bill concerning appointments to the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) bench, most likely next week.

He argued that the date on which the Government is to take responsibility would be set so as to allow the addressing of a potential no-confidence motion before Christmas. Fekete Andras Levente further argued that the bill would stipulate the merging of elections, maintaining representation norms stipulated in the legislation currently in force and maintaining the bicameral system, adding, however, that the number of MPs would not be included in the bill. Gheorghe Flutur made a similar statement, namely, that the bill to merge local and parliamentary elections is not an electoral law: “We are not speaking of an electoral law, the coalition wants to address the merging of elections, nothing else,” the senior deputy president of PDL argued.

Nonetheless, other PDL leaders beg to differ. The deputy president Elena Udrea, minister of Regional Development and Tourism, argued that the decision to merge local and parliamentary elections should be accompanied by other modifications of the electoral law, such as reducing the number of MPs and instituting the unicameral Parliament, which are compulsory measures.

No-confidence vote or leaving Parliament?

Although the co-president of the Social-Liberal Union, Crin Antonescu, announced on Sunday that the opposition was weighing the option of leaving Parliament if the ruling power takes responsibility on the election-merging bill, yesterday, before the USL meeting, several Social Democratic Party (PSD), National Liberal Party (PNL) and Conservative Party (PC) remained reserved concerning a decision to leave Parliament in protest and seemed to favour the option of filing a no-confidence vote. “I think the opposition has several courses of action and leaving Parliament is one alternative, but I’m not sure it’s the only possible one. I, for one, think that in such circumstances, when the people’s interests are at stake, we, the opposition, should turn to the people and ask them what they would have us do. We can raise millions of signatures which will reflect the will of the people,” the deputy leader of Liberal deputies, Eugen Nicolaescu, stated, quoted by Mediafax. However, Interior Ministry Traian Igas mocked the opposition’s alleged intention to leave Parliament. “If you imagine the opposition would leave Parliament, you are much mistaken, as the opposition leaders, both Victor Ponta and Crin Antonescu, will cling to their tiny seats in Parliament with all their might,” the Democrat-Liberal minister argued.

Constitution to be revised in first half of 2012

Under future plans, PDL also referred to the proposed revising of the Constitution, which president Basescu has been calling for so vehemently. Gheorghe Flutur announced yesterday that PDL set out to revise the Constitution in the first half of 2012 and launched a call to the opposition to take part in debates concerning the revising of the fundamental law. “We intend to revise the Constitution in the first half of the year to come, to tackle the problem we’ve committed before the people to address – the unicameral Parliament and reducing the number of MPs to 300,” Flutur stated. Democrat-Liberals sources quoted by Mediafax said that PDL had given up the 388 MPs proposal, after realizing this version would advantage more UDMR which would gain more Senator seats.

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