Extraordinary parliament sitting next week

It was the only concession made by the ruling coalition to the opposition. On the other hand, the Power said ‘No’ to PM’s resignation, snap elections.

The consultations between the leaders of the ruling coalition and Opposition representatives at the Palace of Parliament yesterday did not have the finality pursued by the Opposition. Prime-Minister Emil Boc agreed to the Social Liberal Union (USL) proposal to call the parliament in extraordinary session, but refused to resign as to call early elections. Last night, the two Chambers’ Standing Bureaus decided that the extraordinary sitting asked by the PSD and PNL MPs would take place over two days – next Monday and Tuesday. Initially, USL had declared their dissatisfaction after the ruling collation’s insistence that the meeting should last a single day. On Monday, PSD and PNL submitted to the Speakers of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate a letter asking that the parliament should be called in extraordinary session on January 23 and 24, ‘for debates on the current political situation and unprecedented social tensions’.

‘It is important to have political stability in 2012. It is important not to do harm to the country. The proposal was to have an extraordinary sitting of the parliament, therefore next week we will have an extraordinary sitting’, said the prime-minister. He admitted to the fact that the debates had been greatly focussed on the topic of early election, but pointed out that the procedures could take up until August, alluding to the fact that it wouldn’t make sense since term elections will take place in the autumn anyway: ‘The question is if for a difference of two or three months compared to the normal election date it is worth putting in motion the mechanism of early election.’

Boc said the political class – both the Power and the Opposition – would need to give an answer to the question. The premier added that the representatives of the Government expected the decision of the Constitutional Court on the merger of the two elections, after which it would establish their time-table. Asked if President Traian Basescu had asked him to resign, Emil Boc said: ‘We have not discussed any such thing’. In what regards the economy, the prime-minister says a decision has been made to set up a Power-Opposition Council to monitor and find solutions for the creation of jobs. Boc also said the Executive was willing to go before the parliament once a month to explain the measures it intends to take and that he agreed to the changing of the two Chambers’ regulations in order to include the ‘Government’s Hour’.

UDMR also agrees to holding an extraordinary parliamentary sitting, but not for a snap election. ‘We have not supported the early election. It is not the right solution’, said UDMR President Kelemen Hunor, adding that political debates ‘would have to be brought back into the parliament, in an institutional framework’ where ‘any solution’ can be discussed. In his opinion, PM Emil Boc’s resignation would not be an acceptable solution either.

Ponta: We agreed on nothing!

‘We agreed on nothing!’ said PSD President Victor Ponta after the talks. He was visibly unhappy about the fact that the coalition representatives had said a determined ‘No’ to renouncing the merged parliamentary and local elections as well as to Emil Boc resigning or dismissing Interior Minister Traian Igas. Ponta also said the Opposition had proposed a joint Power-Opposition commission to organise early election for a parliament with fewer MPs, but the ruling coalition had also rejected that proposal. In the context, the leader of PSD noted that the Opposition’s demands would remain the same and would be supported during the extraordinary parliament session the following week. PNL leader Crin Antonescu is also firm in position, also saying that the only viable solutions accepted by USL were: the resignation of the government, snap election and a technocratic government. As for the explanations of the representatives of the ruling coalition regarding the procedure for holding early election, Antonescu admitted to the fact that it is ‘rather complicated’ and ‘revisable’, but added that, as long as there is political will, it could take ‘until March’ rather than August as Boc and UDMR representatives claim. ‘If the Power understands that the solution is the early election, if it succeeds in seeing beyond its interests of clinging on to it, that the democratic solution is the solution of the early election, all these complicated and time-consuming procedures – taking not until September as they claim, but until March – could be avoided’, Antonescu also said. At the same time, he said the opposition leaders had no reason to talk to President Basescu on the subject, because ‘he is not a member, head or reprover of the parliament’. On the other hand, the liberal rebuked the fact that the Power was trying to make the entire political class look responsible for the situation in Romania, something he finds ‘unfair and undemocratic’.

IPP and a group of NGOs skip talks with PDL

The Institute for Public Policies (IPP) yesterday announced they would not attend the talks organised by PDL in the following period because the agenda exclusively reflects the party’s political themes, noting that the most appropriate solution was for the government to submit its mandate and for early election to be organised. Also yesterday, a group of NGOs including APADOR-CH, SAR, Active Watch and the Centre for Independent Journalism also said they were not going to participate in the consultations with the civil society initiated by PDL. ‘The institutionalised civil society joins the one in the University Square and declines the proposal, refusing to let itself attracted into a masquerade social dialogue the envoy of the main ruling party, Minister Teodor Baconschi, is miming, inviting the main NGOs over for talks after the protesters in the University Square had been condemnably offended by PDL leaders (an allusion to Baconschi who, in a blog post, called the demonstrators ‘an inept and illiterate slum’ – our note).

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