POLITICS

Ponta in Chamber: “I regret that not all the people in the Diaspora could vote, I paid the political price”

Prime Minister Victor Ponta said during the debate in the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday that he regretted the fact that Romanian citizens in the Diaspora had been unable to vote, that he had paid the political price for that and also called upon the political parties to adopt the necessary legislative framework for the electronic vote and to designate a non political institution to organise the voting process in the future.

‘I thank all those who voted in the Diaspora, regardless of the candidate they gave their vote to. I wish to state once again that I regret the fact that not all were able to vote, I have paid the political price for that, but I take the liberty of warning everybody that I am not sure that the people who voted abroad – of course, in their majority, they voted for the candidate Klaus Iohannis and fewer for me – necessarily went to the polls for the sake of certain political parties that speak in the name of the Diaspora’, Ponta said.

He pointed out that the political parties needed to adopt the necessary legislation for the voting process, stating that the electronic voting was the technical solution to adopt.

‘I believe it is the duty of the representatives in Parliament, of all political groups, to adopt those legislative measures: one – create a modern framework for voting and, two – designate a non political institution to organize the voting process so that the next election can revolve around different political topics’, Ponta added.

The prime minister also called on parliamentary parties to show capability of dialogue, reason and realist measures that should take account of more than mere political interests –  ‘who is to blame, who must pay’, showing that he had paid the political price and that the price was fair.

‘I am calling upon all political forces, representatives of political parties, that now, after the runoff election, they should prove capability of dialogue, of reason and realistic measures that should take account of more than mere political interests – who is to blame, who must pay, because that already happened on 16 November, but hat we need to do to enable this fundamental right’, Ponta said.

He explained that, in 2014, in the runoff election, three times as many citizens voted abroad as in 2009 and, yet, there were people who either had to queue for hours on end or who were unable to vote altogether. Ponta apologised for the situation and added that two foreign ministers, Titus Corlatean and Teodor Melescanu, had paid the political price.

‘In 2009, at the previous election, a total of 294 polling stations were organised abroad, Where 147,000 Romanian citizens voted. In 2014, in exactly the same number of polling stations, 161,000 people voted in the first round and 378,811 in the second round of election, three times as many as voted in 2009. Such thing was possible thanks to the measures BEC, be Diaspora and MAE took, maximising the number of booths and stamps, affidavit, MAE staff for the polling stations. In spite of that, there were Romanian citizens who had to wait for far too long in order to vote, which is unacceptable. I have apologised, I paid the political price for what happened, and it was a fair price’, Ponta added.

He said the Parliament was the institution that must adopt legislation on the logistics of the exercise of the right to vote and proposed changes to Law No. 370/2004 by the introduction of the electronic voting.

‘There is a reprehensible situation in connection with the fact that, between 2 and 16 November, the participation in the voting process in the polling stations abroad was difficult, but the Parliament of Romania is the institution that must adopt legislation covering all logistic options so that the participation in the voting process at the future elections can benefit from much better conditions’, Ponta said. He added that the elections on 2 and 16 November had very clearly showed that the current regulations of Law No. 370/2004, which regulates the organisation of the voting in the country and abroad are obsolete given the demographic realities and the trends of free movement of people, especially in the European Union.

He also noted that in 280 of the 300 polling stations the voting process was without issues, but in 15-20 the number of voters exceeded by far the capacity and a correct legislation would be a different type of vote, either voting by post or electronic voting.

‘So a correct legislation, from the point of view of the Government, would be the kind of legislation that permits a different type of voting, either by post or electronically, because we live in the 21st century. It is a proposal to you, on which the special parliamentary commission can decide: an electronic voting that truly gives access to all Romanians living abroad on the voting day and it is a technological solution that has truly supported. It is for you to decide if this or another solution is best. My second proposal is to designate an authority subordinated to the Parliament, such as Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP), all legal competence to organise the voting process’, Ponta also said, adding that the Foreign Ministry’s job was not to organise the voting, but to represent diplomatic interests.

Orban accuses Ponta of “being a stain on the face of the country”. Ponta replies that “it is offensive to Romanians in the Diaspora to be resented by buffoons”

According to Mediafax, on Tuesday, during the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies, PNL MP Ludovic Orban urged Prime Minister Victor Ponta to resign office over the fact that Romanians in the Diaspora had been unable to vote, saying that he was ‘a stain on the face of the country’. Ponta replied that it was offensive to Romanians in the Diaspora to be represented by ‘buffoons’.

‘Mr. Prime Minister, resignation is the only honourable gesture of coming out of the situation in which you put yourself’, Ludovic Orban told Victor Ponta during the debate on the fact that Romanian citizens in the Diaspora were unable to vote in the presidential election.

‘In what regards the violation of the fundamental right to vote and prevention of the right to vote, from this rostrum I am requesting the Prosecutor’s Office of the High Court of Cassation and Justice not to treat this investigation like any other investigation. The violation of the right to vote – a fundamental right of any citizen in any democracy – is the most serious violation of democracy. Mr. Ponta, you are a stain on the face of Romania, you are the person who managed to turn us into the laughing stock of an entire Europe. Leave!’ Orban said.

Ludovic Orban pointed out that, after Victor Ponta’s speech, he had realised that he ‘had not understood anything’ of what happened on 2 and 16 November. ‘I trusted he would keep a grain of common sense, of honour. I trusted he would find the only, the unique moral way of not attending this debate – resignation of office as prime minister’, Orban also said.

Victor Ponta replied that ‘it was offensive to Romanians in the Diaspora to be represented by buffoons’.

During these debates , I would like us to make decisions reasonably, with common sense and trying to find solutions, not with demagogy, not with buffooneries from buffoons we know very well. Thinking that in 2007 and 2008 many of those Romanians left the country exactly because some who were transport ministers were robbing by the hundreds of million and, as Mr. Vasile Blaga said in 2009, that Ludovic Orban should have been arrested. But he was not arrested and many Romanians believed that this is a country where the thieves and buffoons stay, a buffoon who, if not on the USL list, would have not been in Parliament to teach us lessons. I believe it is offensive to Romanians in the Diaspora to be represented by buffoons’, Victor Ponta also said.

Opposition accuses Ponta of ‘cold blooded premeditation’ of vote in the Diaspora

The MPs in the Opposition told PM Ponta on Tuesday that ‘he had premeditated with cold blood’ the unfolding of the voting process in the Diaspora, that the ‘lesson’ he had received would ‘serve him well’ and that a distance voting law was badly needed. PSD, on the other hand, argued that the matter should not be treated ‘emotionally’.

PDL MP for the Diaspora Mircea Lubanovici urged the PM to conduct a reform of the consulates abroad, explaining that people had been appointed there ‘on political’ rather than competence considerations.

‘Mr. Prime Minister, in the name of Romanians in the Diaspora, I am urging you to conduct a reform of the consulates abroad because you have sent there people on political considerations and less on considerations of competence’, Lubanovici said.

He added that Ponta had ‘premeditated with cold blood’ the unfolding of the electoral process in the Diaspora, that the premier ‘showed what abuse of power means’ and that the election on 16 November ‘demonstrated the demagogy and deceit that characterise the act of governance’.

‘Mr. Prime Minister, I believe the lesson you received will serve you well and that the Romanians I represent will no longer be ignored’, Lubanovici noted.

The representatives of PC, UDMR and PMP spoke about the need to adopt a law o introduce the distance voting, while complying with all security requirements of the electoral process.

Marian Neacşu (PSD) however noted that a law should not be written ‘on the knee’ and gave the example of countries such as Switzerland, Ireland, Germany or the Netherlands who first introduced the vote by post and then abrogated it as fraud suspicions were developing. ‘This matter ought to be treated less emotionally and more reasonably’, Neacsu said.

He added that, during the debate, people had mentioned ‘guilt’ and explained that the main responsibility for the organisation of the voting both in the country and abroad belonged to the Standing Electoral Authority. ‘I’m not saying I’ve found the culprit. I’m saying that, together with AEP and the Government, we, the Parliament have the duty of carefully analysing this and taking the best possible measures’, the PSD MP added.

 

 

 

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