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May 17, 2022

Pre-elections strategies

While waiting for the Constitutional Court’s explanation for its decision to rule the elections merger law unconstitutional, ruling coalition and opposition parties are thinking what part of their arsenal to use in order to win.

While the opposition insists on early elections and the ruling power categorically rejects this option, UDMR, PDL’s coalition partner, is still issuing ambiguous messages. UDMR President Kelemen Hunor stated in an interview for ‘Jurnalul National’ that he is waiting for the Constitutional Court’s (CC) explanation before taking a decision, while UDMR’s old guard – represented by Laszlo Borbely and Marko Bela – is proposing a serious analysis of the early elections option.

The government is waiting for the Constitutional Court’s explanation too, Premier Emil Boc stating on Monday evening that the CC considers unconstitutional only certain articles of the draft elections merger law, not the draft law in its entirety. “We are waiting to see which of the articles were considered unconstitutional and we will take a final decision,” Boc stated on TVR. The Premier is also hopeful about PDL’s recovery, the party having fallen steeply in opinion polls against the backdrop of protests and austerity measures taken during the recession.

“There’s a long way to go before Parliamentary elections. I believe there will be a consistent recovery; its size depends on us. Whether this will take place with me at the helm or not is less important,” the Premier stated, pointing out that the current ruling coalition will govern after 2012 too because USL will fall below 50 per cent in voter preference. Analyst Cristian Parvulescu disagrees, stating in an interview for ‘Jurnalul National’ that a PDL recovery is difficult to believe given the huge difference between PDL and USL in opinion polls. “That is precisely why they hope they can merge the elections because mathematically that would give them more votes,” Parvulescu stated. He also opined that PDL’s most dynamic leaders will try to distance themselves from the Head of State, however Basescu is not interested of distancing himself from PDL because he has to rely on the party in case USL comes to power and tries to impeach him.

Back up: Vote-by-mail and minorities’ statute

PDL will not wait for things to improve by themselves and will be willing to take measures in order to protect its back. A hint was yesterday’s announcement according to which the government has decided to reopen the vote-by-mail issue and plans to adopt the law by the end of April at the latest. The vote-by-mail draft proposed by former Foreign Affairs Minister Teodor Baconschi was rejected from the start by the opposition, the civil society and UDMR because it leaves the door open to fraud, or like Kelemen Hunor put it “voting security is unsatisfactory.” Another strategy which PDL wants to use in order to take precautions and to make sure it can rely on UDMR’s support is the promotion of the minorities’ statute, the Hungarians’ major goal. The government announced yesterday that it will ask Parliament again to approve the draft by the end of June.

Ponta: Nothing to negotiate with Basescu

On the other hand, the opposition is stressing the need for early elections, although it lacks the best tools with which to initiate them. While it first took into account the option of stepping down from Parliament, USL now gave up (only Liberal MP Adriana Saftoiu resigned from Parliament) and is staking only on a Parliamentary strike, a move that would nevertheless fail to generate early elections.  While PM Boc said on Monday that the strike is “immature and irresponsible” and the Opposition is acting like in kindergarten, PDL deputies’ leader, Mihai Toader invited PSD and PNL to negotiations in order to convince them to give up the strike.  On the other hand, in an interview for ‘Jurnalul National,’ PSD President Victor Ponta did not clearly explain how the early elections stage will be reached and seemed more confident in what concerns the post-elections strategy, relying on opinion polls that gave the Social Liberal Union as winner with over 50 per cent of the votes. The PSD President stated that he will not negotiate with President Basescu or UDMR. “There is nothing to negotiate with Traian Basescu, we’ll ask him to apply the Constitution and to nominate the Premier from the alliance that has over half of the seats in Parliament. If he doesn’t do that we’ll impeach him. But I think Basescu is a scared-cat and will do it,” Ponta stated, adding that he does not have to persuade UDMR because that party knows its interest very well and if it wants early elections it will do so “for its sake, not for USL’s sake.”

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