Common practice in the Romanian Parliament.
Since the Parliamentary elections of 2012 until today, 70 deputies and 28 senators have been involved in political migration at least once, changing parties or becoming independents.
As remarked by Romania Libera daily, party-switching remains a usual practice in the Parliament from Bucharest, despite the politicians’ promises to put an end to this phenomenon. In 2012, 588 MPs joined the Legislative, and over 15 percent of them – 98 MPs – have switched parties at least once. The main beneficiaries of this behavior were the members of the ruling party, just as it had been in the previous legislature, leaving PSD with the lion’s share of the recruitments.
Consequently, PSD’s Parliamentary groups that include members of UNRP currently consist of 263 senators and deputies, in spite of the 224 seats initially earned in the 2012 elections. The massive wave of recruitments, in particular those of MPs who have gone from PP-DD to UNRP, has ensured Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s survival at the Victoria Palace. Thanks to the former PP-DD MPs who joined his party and to UDMR, Ponta has maintained the majority after the dissolution of USL, the alliance with which he had won the elections in 2012. This, plus a formal agreement with PP-DD, would allow Victor Ponta to remain in the Parliamentary majority even if UDMR decides to leave the governance.
However, party-switching has also canceled the majority of Romanians’ votes who in 2012 voted for PP-DD. At the start of the Parliamentary legislature, Dan Diaconescu’s party had 68 MPs, as opposed to 18 at the moment. In fact, the PP-DD Senate group consisting of only three senators was annulled because it did not meet the necessary minimum number of seven members.
Another side-effect of party-switching is the number of MPs certain parties who never took part in the 2012 elections now have, which is not to be ignored. Although not registered with the Court, the Liberal Reformation Party (PLR) founded by Calin Popescu Tariceanu is supported by 21 MPs in the Legislative, all of whom come from PNL. Likewise, Elena Udrea’s PMP currently has 15 MPs, despite not having participated in the 2012 elections.
Some MPs have become quite experts in this field. Deputy Cezar Cioata was elected as a member of PP-DD, switched to PC in early 2013, and returned to Dan Diaconescu’s party one month later. He then resigned again, ran as an independent for several months, and joined PC again.
Mihai Stanisoara was elected deputy of PDL, but joined PNL last year where he became vice-chairman. At the time, Stanisoara had taken down all his blog posts criticizing PDL leader Crin Antonescu. Recently, Stanisoara left PNL and joined Calin Popescu Tariceanu in his efforts to form a new party – PLR. His godson, deputy Ion Cupa, followed the same PDL-PNL-PLR trajectory. Deputy Ioan Viorel Teodorescu has accomplished the great feat of being a member of three different parties within a single month. Several weeks ago, he was still a member of PNL, then switched to Tariceanu’s party, and recently he has joined UNPR. Senator Tudor Barbu was also extremely busy, starting his term as a PP-DD member, moving on to PC, and finally to PNL. Senator Valer Marian started out as a PSD member and after some controversy with the party management he switched to PP-DD, only to resign and become an independent. In some cases, the transfer from one party to the other had the added benefit of immunity before justice. For instance, Daniel Chitoiu, former Minister of Finance, switched from PNL to PLR, the rulers’ camp, and was able to escape a criminal investigation thanks to massive support from PSD deputies.
Thus, half-way through the term, party-switching has reported similar figures as those of the 2008-2012 terms, when 92 PMs had switched parties at least once. As underlined by Romania Libera, the current Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who as part of the opposition in May 2012 had accused the Boc Gov’t of forming a majority based on party-switching and had promised to put a stop to this practice, is now taking full advantage of the possibilities of men who share the Gov’t’s resources to recruit MPs, now that he is in the seat of power. The draft on amending the Constitution included an article on annulling the terms of party-switchers, but the draft was abandoned once USL broke apart.