The MPs of the National Liberal Party (PNL) on Monday went on a warning strike, protesting against the fact that the distance voting bill had not yet been adopted. They accuse the power of intentionally delaying the process.
The postal voting law should be ready until November, so that it could be applied at the legislative elections of 2016, under the circumstances that CC and the Venice Committee have established that laws cannot be amended less than a year before scrutiny.
The draft version of the postal law was considered a priority of the past session in the Parliament. After Presidential elections, there were discussions at the Cotroceni Palace and a principle agreement. Nonetheless, Parliament parties have changed electoral legislation but failed to agree on a draft law to adopt, as there are four initiatives on this topic registered at the Parliament.
According to an INSCOP poll at the end of September, 42.9% of the population of the country is happy with the introduction of the distance voting for Romanians who are based abroad, 21.3% said they had a ‘neither good nor bad opinion’ on the matter and 27.4% disapproved.
Predoiu: PSD will not pass the postal voting law, because the Diaspora will never vote for PSD
The situation of the postal vote “is stagnant”, because thus PM Ponta “is taking revenge” on the Diaspora and because PSD is unable to gain votes outside the national borders, PNL Prime Vice-President Catalin Predoiu declared on Sunday, in a press conference.
Asked how he commented on statements made by PSD members, according to whom the ‘Japanese’ (working) strike initiated by PNL members of the Parliament was a “cheap political game”, Predoiu replied: “What is trying PSD to tell me? That you, a minority party in the Parliament, do not adopt the postal voting law, as you own the majority in the Government. It stays within their power to do so, if they want to. It can be done in three days, why don’t they do it in several years? Let us say it out, loud and clear: they do not do it because Ponta is taking revenge on the Diaspora, this is why they do not want postal voting. They do not do it because they know that Diaspora would never ever vote for PSD.”
Catalin Predoiu declared, when asked why PNL was not summoning a meeting of the Electoral Code Committee, where the party holds one third of the members: “We are at the beginning of this action. There were other meetings held at that Committee and you all know the result. This is why I am telling you I do not want to anticipate. We will have a meeting at the Union Organizing Committee and we will decide there what the further steps to follow are. I am confident that the two Co-Presidents, Gorghiu and Blaga, will announce this strategy”.
The PNL Prime Vice-President also pointed out that Japanese strike was a gesture intended to signal the fact that PSD was constantly blocking the adoption of the law and that, probably there will be further measures of political reaction, due to be decided at the PNL Union Organizing Committee, as a meeting was scheduled at the beginning of next week. “
“One thing is for sure; we did not have the required number of votes to counterbalance this tendency by PSD to stagnate, to keep things blocked and then, obviously, we are considering other forms to get attention, to protest, to create an opinion trend in the Parliament for the postal vote, because this opinion trend exists outside of the Parliament”, Catalin Predoiu declared.
Asked how long would PNL members of the Parliament protest, Predoiu answered: “We will protest until there are reasons for us to protest. We are interested in this law because citizens are interested in it. I saw that the Prime Minister was not interested. (…) I noticed in an interview the lack of interest he showed to giving the Diaspora this right to vote. I understand; the Diaspora had punished him and he had lost plenty of votes in the Diaspora, but this should not be the criterion to build our political decisions on: who voted for me and who did not. It is a disadvantaging position.”
PNL Co-president Alina Gorghiu said on Realitatea TV last week that she had made an extreme decision and that the Liberal MPs would be on a warning strike as of the following Monday, protecting against the situation with the adoption of the distance voting law. Gorghiu noted that, when President Klaus Iohannis was back from his US trip, a new round of talks should be scheduled.
“I believe that when the President comes back home, as we are on a last ditch to adopting this bill, the postal voting law, in order to be able to organize the general elections in 2016 having this alternative way of voting, a last round of consultations should take place (…) We have
made another decision, too; I could say it is extreme from the parliamentarian stances’ point of view. We shall have a ‘Japanese’ [editor’s note: working] strike of the MPs; we shall go to work, yet we shall criticize the story with the postal voting on all channels,” Gorghiu said.
PNL MP Ovidiu Raețchi states in a press release that Liviu Dragnea should ‘learn from Victor Ponta’s experience with blocking the right to vote and the political consequences of his gesture’.
‘I would like to inform Liviu Dragnea that Section 7 of the distance voting draft law PNL initiated stipulates that Romanians in the Diaspora must register in order to vote, based on the Western model’, Raetchi states. He refers to Dragnea’s statement that what PNL wanted could not be done.
‘PNL insists on not having Romanian citizens abroad register to vote somewhere, so that we can send the envelopes there. They want the envelopes to be sent to the embassies, from where people could collect them. We cannot organise things that way’, Liviu Dragnea said.
Raețchi also said that Dragnea should learn from Victor Ponta’s experience with blocking the right to vote and the political consequences of his gesture.
‘’After that, the draft law lists the documents required from Romanians who wish to vote abroad, as well as the fact that AEP shall send the documents to every citizen, after hiring a postal service operator who should meet a set of conditions. For example, the envelopes should be sent as registered mail and returned free of charge by the voter’, the PNL MP also states. He notes that his predecessor, Victor Ponta, ‘also though he was stronger than the fundamental right to vote and he’s now paying the price’.
Social-Democrats accuse them of ‘politicised game’
PSD interim President Liviu Dragnea called the Liberals’ decision a ‘politicised game’.
‘They go on warning strike over the distance voting. It is very difficult for us to understand that. We are actually surprised. The commission hair (Mihai Voicu – editor’s note), their person, has run away from there. After he had run away, the commission could not work. We asked them to appoint someone else, but they refused. This game is very difficult to understand. It’s either a mere image game and they are simply not interested in the law or, if not, they should say it’, Agerpres quotes Dragnea as having said on Sunday.
He said PSD wanted to adopt the distance voting law and that letters had been exchanged with the Standing Electoral Authority in that respect, Agerpres informs.
‘One way or another we can guarantee that, during the parliamentary election next year, the Romanians who live in the Diaspora would have conditions at least equal to those of Romanians who live in Romania for exercising their right to vote’, Dragnea concluded.
A similar position was taken by PSD Senator Mihai Fifor.
‘I don’t know why the Liberal group needs to organise a strike for the distance voting, because they had the chairmanship of the commission that was supposed to make a proposal on that and, all of a sudden, the PNL colleagues no longer want to have that chairmanship. It seems to me a cheap political game no one wins from, on the contrary, a game that wrongs those who are waiting for the distance voting that we support and back as proposal and I believe we will manage to carry it out’, Mihai Fifor said on Sunday, according to Agerpres.
PNL MP Mihai Voicu resigned as Chairman of the Electoral Code Commission two weeks ago. The activity of the Commission was suspended after his resignation as the chairman is the only person who may schedule meetings, being a special commission, unlike the standing committees that have a fixed time-table. The Social-Democrats say that Voicu’s resignation is actually an indication of the fact that PNL is the party that does not want the distance voting. ‘Mihai Voicu’s resignation as Chairman of the Commission preparing electoral laws is an act of political cowardice. PNL, PSD and the other parliamentary parties have made a firm commitment to introduce the distance voting. With this resignation today, PNL demonstrates that it is unable to fulfil its commitments’, PSD MP Gabriela Podasca, Deputy Chairperson of the Electoral Code Commission, said.
‘The resignation as chairman I want to be very clearly understood by the public opinion as a clear form of protest against the procrastination of the law on distance voting’, PNL Co-president Alina Gorghiu explained at a press conference at the time.
Senate speaker: ‘They are making a big mistake’
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu said on Monday he had called on the leaders of the political groups in the ruling coalition to mobilise the senators and deputies in order to make sure that the Parliament could work normally, considering the fact that the Liberals would go on strike on Monday.
According to Tariceanu, the ruling coalition MPs must be present during the various activities of the legislative body and support their bills.
“I have not discussed with those of the PNL [National Liberal Party]. I don’t know the meaning of the parliamentary strike. If they think the Government can be toppled otherwise than through democratic means, they’re very wrong, because they do not observe the elementary operating
rules of democracy. As far as we are concerned, the problem of our mobilization and attendance of the sittings, both in the Senate and in the Chamber [of Deputies], we have discussed and I have called the group leaders to mobilize our colleagues. I think there won’t be any problem,
although I see such somehow neglectful attitudes everywhere. There are obligations we must fulfill. What the PNL wants to do is their own business; we have other obligations. We’re part of the governing coalition, and this compels us to attend and support our bills’, Thracian said after a meeting of ALDE leaders on Monday, according to Agerpres.
Elena Udrea: ‘So much hypocrisy in PNL!’
Ex-Minister Elena Udrea, currently PMP member of Parliament, says PNL proves hypocrisy when announcing the warning strike over the adoption of the distance voting law, as long as there is already a bill tabled in Parliament which the Liberals keep rejecting conjointly with PSD.
‘So much hypocrisy in PNL! They announce two months of warning strike because PSD does not want to adopt the distance voting law! Really??? The fact is there is a good draft law on distance voting PMP tabled in Parliament already in 2013 and rejected twice by PNL, always hand in hand with PSD. The first time in February 2014, when the two parties were both in USL and voted against the bill and the second time in December 2014, when the Liberals and the Social-Democrats opposed the draft’, Udrea states on Facebook.
The PMP MP says PSD and PNL should really continue together in USL, as long as they share the same agenda.
‘So spear us the demagogy and embarrassment! There is no difference between PSD and PNL. The most honest thing they could do is to continue together as they were, in USL’, Udrea says.