By Daniela Baragan
The no-confidence motion “After 22 years, democracy is in danger!” submitted by the Social Liberal Union (USL) after Government assuming responsibility over the election merger bill failed to pass through Parliament, as the 209-4 vote tally fell short of the minimum 234 yes votes needed. The outcome came as no surprise, given the MPs with the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) and the National Union for the Progress of Romania (UNPR) announced right from the start of the debates they would not vote the motion, while lawmakers with the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) said they would vote against. It appears not even opposition members managed to muster enough support, considering that the legislative groups of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the National Liberal Party (PNL) account for 215 MPs, and the motion was only voted by 209 parliamentarians (the Parliament session was attended by 262 MPs, of whom 213 cast their vote). Senator Mircea Geoana and Deputy Daniel Oajdea too had announced they were going to vote in favour of the motion.
In his address to the plenum of Parliament PDL leader and Romania’s PM Emil Boc sharply criticised Opposition leaders whom he described as “irrational and hypocrites”, as they themselves did not believe in the motion of no confidence, as the PNL formulated the amendments to the election merger draft law and Liberal mayors too want the merger to take place so that they could finish their projects in time. “Populism and demagoguery are more dangerous than the election merger, and the USL leaders prove being unreasonable given their saying democracy would only suffer if elections were hold concurrently in the autumn of next year, yet not if held earlier,” Mediafax quoted Boc as saying, according to whom USL leaders want elections to be pushed forward as they see their voting pool plummet. “I know you’ve been desperately seeking early elections for years, since you’ve started out from 67 pc and got to 46 pc, and you’ll go further down to 40 pc next spring led by the demagoguery of Mr. Ponta and the sleep of Mr. Antonescu,” Boc told PSD and PNL lawmakers.
Also, the PM urged MPs not to miss out on the chance of a better absorption of EU funds by running two electoral campaigns in one year, adding that the real stake of the merged elections is the economic hardships next year.
“You all know what two electoral campaigns in one year would mean for this country: the economic engines and absorption of EU funds being slowed down, political haggling, state activity being paralysed. One less electoral campaign does not mean a deficit in democracy, quite the opposite, many people will go to the polls, as local elections generate a great deal more of citizen participation to voting,” Emil Boc also said. Even before the vote outcome was out, the head of the Executive expressed his optimism inits result, telling journalists his violet tie would be a winning bet. “When has this tie lost? “Trust that tie, it will yield good result,” the PM said, alluding to the famous-by-now “Violet Flame” scandal that erupted shortly after the presidential elections in 2009, which brought Traian Basescu a second term in office.
The premier’s speech before the joint Chambers of Parliament was met with boos that went on for a couple of minutes from members of the Ecopolis organisation who shouted “Shame, shame, shame on you!”. They also hanged up several white sheets containing anti-election-merger slogans. In their turn, opposition MPs wore three-coloured armbands and little flags bearing cut-out holes and posters reading “Freedom”.
Antonescu: Boc’s statements, leninists, fascists and antidemocratic
“(…) the premier says it is good for us to go to the polls as seldom as possible. Electoral campaigns, the premier says, are sterile debates and need to be avoided. Somebody, he says, those who govern that is, decided it is good for this nation, and therefore, for all of us, to engage in no debates, to hold no elections, but to align – ruling power, opposition, local and central administration – to all the goals set by the power,” the PNL leader Crin Antonescu said, describing Boc’s statement as Leninist, fascist and antidemocratic. He also repeated his view the election merger is a direct attempt against the democratic system. “I reject the idea that diminishing the electoral process could be a solution to an economic crisis, that early elections would be a change in the democratic table justified by the crisis,” he also said. The PNL leader also said that the election merger would turn Parliament into a second-rate institution, lacking teeth and legitimacy, since it would consist of “mayor delegates or deputies”.
Ponta: PDL equals PCR
PSD President Victor Ponta yesterday, after the no-confidence motion failed passing through Parliament, said that Emil Boc, Traian Basescu, PDL and other “traitors” stole Romanians their right to vote. PDL equals PCR (Romanian Communist Party) we can write that on all walls. Parliament conducts itself as the Grand National Assembly used to. If Boc were to propose today that the Easter and Christmas should merge with each other, then, those sheep sitting in the benches of Parliament would agree to it. (…) Emil Boc resembles Emil Bobu <former communist interior minister>, he’s just as stupid. We are talking about election merger, he is speaking about great achievements. Igas is just as illiterate as Postelnicu was <Tudor Postelnicu, a member of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) and a former interior minister during 1987-1989>, he is unable to finish a sentence, and Elena Udrea is just as arrogant and lacking culture as Elena Ceausescu,” Ponta said. He made the point that “all these lesser or greater comrades” would come to “atone” before the people and to be “punished” in December 2012 <when elections are supposed to be held>, “as others before them had been”. Also, Social-Democrat Deputy Viorel Hrebenciuc predicted that this government will fall next March, adding that the USL, together with the Social Progressive Union (USP) will be instrumental to it.
USL to notify CC over election merger bill
Shortly after the vote result had been announced, USL said it would notify the Constitutional Court (CC) over the election merger bill, saying that a “fair analysis” should lead to the bill being rejected by the Court. “We demand that the Constitutional Court show, at least now, an attitude of respect to law and democracy,” according to a press release sent to “Nine O’Clock”. According to the source quoted, USL warns that the no-confidence motion failing to pass, by ruling coalition MPs not casting their ballots, “will keep Romania on the track of the authoritarian drift during the past couple of years”. On December 22, by rejecting the no-confidence vote, “the ruling power trampled on the principles and ideals the Revolution of 1989 fought for,” the release states.