Consultations between President Klaus Iohannis and the parliamentary parties on the legislative priorities opened on Wednesday at the Cotroceni Palace with the delegation of the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD).
PSD was represented by its chair, Prime Minister Victor Ponta, its executive president Liviu Dragnea, the Chamber of Deputies Chair Valeriu Zgonea and Senator Ioan Chelaru.
The President was assisted by his advisors Dan Mihalache, George Scutaru, Laurentiu-Mihai Stefan, Elena-Simina Tanasescu and Mihaela Ciochina.
Iohannis mentioned this effort was the beginning of a reform of public institutions.
‘Thus, we enter a new stage of debating, identifying and implementing solutions, aiming at the proposed goals for a durable construction of Romanian democracy,’ the head of state wrote on his Facebook page.
According to the Presidential Administration, the agenda of these consultations includes a better organization of voting abroad, the financing of election campaigns and political parties, and the acceleration of procedures for lifting the parliamentary immunity.
This is the second round of consultations between the President and the parliamentary forces since he took office. The first was held on January 12, on an agreement for financing Defence; the document was signed the next day.
PSD: ‘We have proposed a register of the Romanians living abroad to be fathered’
The Social Democratic Party (PSD) has proposed during the meeting a register of Romanians living abroad to be fathered, and the activity of the Parliament to be alike the European legislative’s, the party’s chair, Prime minister Victor Ponta, said.
‘We agree and wish to re-start, during this parliamentary session, the two committees – the Committee of modification of the electoral laws and the Constitution’s revision Committee. As regards the electoral laws, a special preoccupation to guaranteeing the vote of the Romanians from abroad, and here we have proposed that the organizing of the vote be the responsibility of the Standing Electoral Authority which has organized the elections very well on Romania’s territory, and we are to give it all the necessary logistical resources, so that the AEP accomplishes this attribution. We have also proposed a register of the Romanians living abroad to be fathered, so that the AEP could know how it could organize the elections, be it about the polling stations, or the voting by mail, and encounter no problems,’ said Ponta at the Cotroceni Palace, after the meeting of the PSD delegation with President Klaus Iohannis.
He added that the PSD reiterated its support for an alteration of the regulation of the two Chambers of the Parliament, starting from the demand of President Iohannis in reference to faster procedures when it comes to lifting parliamentary immunity.
‘We have proposed an ample modification, due to turn the Parliament’s activity more transparent, more efficient and more responsible in front of their voters, a way of work at the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, too, to pursue the European Parliament’s pattern. On Monday should be a day of activity in the parliamentary groups and of presence of the Government members, with the ministers coming to answer the MPs’ questions on various issues, on Tuesday – activity in the committees, on Wednesday and Thursday – debates and vote in plenary session, and final vote on Thursday,’ the PSD chair added.
Ponta mentioned that the PSD also wants to alter the law on political parties’ financing in such a manner so that in the future, through clear legislative modifications, a transparent, clear system to be set for the parties as regards their financing and the financing of the electoral campaigns.
‘We assent with facilitating the rules regarding the foundation of new political parties, to give up those difficult conditions with regards on the very big number of signatures, on condition that this would not be reflected in the budget expenditure, meaning we want it to be simple to set a party, yet this shouldn’t mean that we finance all of these parties from the state budget,’ said Ponta, adding that the PSD tallies with cut of the MPs number, and the exact way of representation should be found within the parliamentary committee.
PNL: ‘Important project for restoring Romanian Parliament’s credibility’
The National Liberal Party (PNL) was scheduled next. The party sent its co-chairs Alina Gorghiu and Vasile Blaga, alongside Catalin Predoiu, Gheorghe Flutur, Mihai Voicu and Ciprian Dobre.
Vasile Blaga and Alina Gorghiu presented, after the consultations, the proposals they had taken before the president, including the introduction of the distance voting in the Diaspora, two-round local elections, a new party financing law, stepping up procedures for lifting MP immunity and the termination of terms for locally elected officials who migrate to other parties, under OUG No. 5/2014.
‘We presented a time-table to the president. On May 5 w can be ready with all the laws pertaining to the electoral code, approved by the Chamber of Deputies which generally is the decision-making chamber on such matters’, Vasile Blaga said.
‘The project is important for restoring the credibility of the Romanian Parliament’, Alina Gorghiu stressed, in the context of the publication of the CVM report yesterday.
PNL also urged the Government to comply with the law and hold partial elections where there are mayor, county council president or MP vacancies and said that, the following week, the party would take the Government to Court if it still refused to do it.
UNPR: ‘Electoral lists must be annually updated’
The National Union for Romania’s Progress (UNPR )delegation followed PNL to consultations. The delegation was made up of President Gabriel Oprea, Senator Ion Toma, MP Laurentiu Chirvasuta, Parliament Liaison Minister Eugen Nicolicea, MP Valeriu Steriu and Baia Mare Mayor Catalin Chereches.
In the end, MP Eugen Nicolicea, Minister for Liaison with Parliament, presented the proposals made during the consultations with the president, noting that UNPR wanted the financing of parties to be very transparent, the Regulations of the Chambers to be put in agreement with the Statute and, regarding the organization of elections, to prepare electoral lists that should be updated annually, both in the country and abroad. ‘We talked about the financing of political parties and we agreed that it should be very transparent to eliminate corruption and prevent the accession to Parliament of people with issues. So we agreed with the president’, Nicolicea said. ‘Regarding the voting in the Diaspora and – we added – in the country, UNPR supported that and we were the first to also prepare a legislative proposal on the preparation of the electoral lists. A point that we introduced is that the electoral lists should be annually updated, both in the country and abroad. It deals with 90% of the issues that we are having. We added to our proposal the French model as inspiration regarding the electoral lists’, the UNPR MP further said.
PC asks for straight-ticket voting for election of Parliament
The Conservative Party (PC) delegation to the Cotroceni consultations with President Iohannis included Daniel Constantin and Crisian Popescu Piedone. The PC president said after the talks that his party supported the proposal that AEP should organise elections in the Diaspora and the idea that Romanians living abroad should have a specific deadline for registration on supplementary lists of voters with the embassies. Daniel Constantin also talked about the transparent financing of political parties, returning to the straightticjet voting, simplification of the procedure for lifting MPs’ immunity, adoption of the electoral code as well as finding a consensus on the organisation of elections in either one round or in two rounds.
UDMR: ‘Constitution revision cannot happen under the current conditions’
The Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) followed after PC to consultations. The delegation was headed by President Kelemen Hunor, accompanied by Vice-President Laszlo Borbely. Afterwards, Kelemen Hunor presented UDMR’s position on the subjects that had been discussed with the president, mentioning, among other things, a genuine decentralisation and keeping the bicameral Parliament. The leader of UDMR noted that his party had opposed the adoption of Ordinance No. 5 on political migration and stressed that ‘the revision of the Constitution under the current conditions cannot happen’, which means that the result of the 2009 referendum cannot be implemented.
Minorities support change of electoral legislation
Following the consultations the president had with the representatives of the national minorities, Varujan Pambuccian, the leader of the group of minorities in Parliament, presented some of the topics addressed with the president, noting that the MPs in his group would like the elections ‘to have a stable organiser that should become professionalized, which could be AEP’. He also reminded that his group had never acted as a barrier in the way of political projects, so, if there was political will on behalf of the other parties, the electoral laws could be amended in useful time.
PPDD asked for introduction of mandatory vote from the age of 16
The last delegation to participate in the consultations was PP-DD’s. led by founding party President Dan Diaconescu and President Simona Man. Dan
Diaconescu presented the proposals he had made to the president, saying that one could see that 14 of the 100 projects PP-DD had proposed during the campaign would be implemented as such and the president received PP-DD’s suggestions ‘with attention and joy’. Among the wishes expressed by PP-DD there was the introduction of mandatory vote for people over 16, the introduction of distance voting for Romanians who are based abroad and the abrogation of the electoral threshold. Dan Diaconescu also asked that CNA should be replaced with a different institution.