Premier Dacian Ciolos met the leaders of parliamentary parties on Monday at the Lac 1 Villa, in order to discuss the modification of the local elections law.
After the consultations ended, Premier Dacian Ciolos announced that the Government could help the process of reverting to the two-round election system for the local elections this summer to the extent in which a decision were to exist in Parliament.
“I noticed that the parties are not against the idea of resuming talks on the two-round local elections, however a majority would prefer the talks not to take place right now,” the Premier said. “In these conditions, also given the constitutional constraints facing the Government if it were to choose to assume responsibility or to issue an emergency ordinance, there are very high risks for this to be an action in force, without materializing in Parliament in the absence of support,” Ciolos added. “I can only note that, with all of the Government’s will, the decision remains in Parliament’s hands and it is important for the political parties to take this responsibility,” the Premier concluded.
According to the official statements and communiqués, PNL, PMP, PND and PSRo support finding an urgent solution in order to modify the law, and the election of mayors in two rounds, while PSD, ALDE and UNPR are opposed, preferring the current one-round voting system which favours incumbent mayors.
The topic of reverting to two-round local elections has returned to the attention of political parties a few months before the elections, scheduled for June 5. While PNL is pressuring the Ciolos Government to adopt an emergency ordinance or take responsibility for the changing of the law, PSD is threatening to boycott the elections unless the one-round voting system for mayors is maintained.
Ludovic Orban: “Boycotting the elections is a bluff”
The National Liberal Party (PNL) is calling on political parties to support two-round mayoral elections and accept amending the legislation to accommodate the demand under an emergency ordinance. It argues that keeping one-round mayoral elections in place would hamper the democratic exercise.
In a press statement released on Monday, PNL says that in its meeting with Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos the PNL delegation insisted that keeping in place the one-round mayoral elections would be detrimental to the legitimacy and representation of future elected officials, while hampering the democratic exercise.
“PNL is reiterating its plea for the other political parties to obey the democratic majority principle for the election of mayors and to accept the amending of electoral legislation under an emergency ordinance as soon as possible,” reads the statement.
The PNL delegation, made up of Co-President Vasile Blaga, First Deputy Presidents Adriana Saftoiu, Ludovic Orban and Gheorghe Flutur and Secretary General Ilie Bolojan, presented its arguments in favour of amending the elections legislation in order to allow for a two-round mayoral election system.
Likewise, PNL Vice President Ludovic Orban stated that the Liberals support the election of mayors in two rounds because this would give them “enhanced legitimacy.”
Asked whether Premier Ciolos said that he gives up on issuing an emergency government ordinance and on taking responsibility, as the PSD President had previously stated, Ludovic Orban answered angrily: “I am waiting for an official position from Mr. Ciolos and do not have Mr. Dragnea’s habit of disclosing Mr. Ciolos’ statements.”
“If he has something to say publicly I am sure he will let you know,” Orban added, referring to the Premier.
The PNL Vice President added that PSD “is the last party that should complain of the fact that the Government issues emergency ordinances,” because “PSD is the party that modified the presidential elections law, through emergency ordinance, in 2014.”
He emphasized that PNL believes that there are three possibilities to revert to a two-round election system for mayors: “Either through emergency ordinance, or by taking responsibility, which entails the withdrawal of the draft we initiated (…), or by adopting the law under an emergency Parliamentary procedure, a possibility I am not ruling out.”
“Both we and the ALDE President support two-round elections. But it is highly dependent on Mr. Oprea’s turncoats, and their position is dictated by PSD’s position, whether it will accept their bandwagoning or not. (…) The boycotting of elections is a bluff. PSD is making these desperate statements. (…) We are waiting for the Premier to express a position following the consultations,” Ludovic Orban emphasized.
UNPR supports one-round elections
The National Union for Romania’s Progress (UNPR) favours one-round mayoral elections, it announced in a release following Monday’s meeting with Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, a meeting that focused on changes to the electoral laws.
“UNPR supports one-round elections, since this is provided for in an organic law. It went through all the steps, it was debated and voted by Parliament’s plenum and signed by the President of Romania. UNPR remains faithful to the principles it has always upheld – seriousness, stability and consistency – and thus rejects the proposal of changing the legislation on the election of mayors,” the release reads.
Party President Gabriel Oprea led UNPR’s delegation in the talks with the prime minister; UNPR Secretary General Neculai Ontanu, the mayor of Bucharest’s 2nd District, and party Vice President Valeriu Steriu were also part of the delegation.
Liviu Dragnea: “Premier rules out an emergency ordinance or the taking of responsibility”
“I told the Prime Minister what I have also publicly stated, that there is no argument for disturbing the electoral process through a legislative initiative on changing the rules a few months before local elections. Moreover, PSD does not reject the idea of two-round local elections. On the contrary, we support this idea, just not now. We want to generate a discussion on reforming the entire electoral system. (…) We must have coherence in the electoral system of Romania, but an assessment is needed, one that maybe the future parliament, which will come with new legitimacy, could carry out. Under no circumstances are we to create such a dangerous precedent of modifying the electoral system only two months before the elections proper, because we could end up seeing the Liberals coming up with another proposal in September-October, saying that the party list proportional representation must also be changed, and coming up with another original idea,” the PSD chairman said.
Dragnea pointed out that the PM said during the discussions that he wanted to hold consultations with the parties in order to see if there is a majority in favour of this idea firstly initiated by the National Liberal Party (PNL).
“All public appearances show that the majority is against this initiative and most likely there are a few options to be taken into account after these consultations are completed. The PM told us he rules out both the emergency ordinance option and the government’s taking of responsibility and that he will be considering other options, but after the consultations are over,” the PSD President said.
Calin Popescu Tariceanu: “It’s ridiculous for one party to demand the changing of the rules”
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) President Calin Popescu-Tariceanu said Monday, after consultations with Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, that talks on electing mayors in two-round elections should become incumbent on the Parliament to be formed following this year’s parliamentary elections.
“It is not natural, it is even ridiculous for one party to ask for the changing of the rules when it sees that the current system is to its disadvantage. I told the Premier that we do not agree with modifying the legislation. Maybe a new, fresh Parliament should tackle these issues at the start of its sitting,” the ALDE Co-President stated.
Daniel Fenechiu: “I found out with sadness that the parliamentary majority is against it”
PND leader Daniel Fenechiu, member of the Lower Chamber, stated when leaving the consultations that his party endorses two-round elections but there is no parliamentary majority that would share that opinion.
“The Premier expressed his point of view, that he does not want to substitute Parliament, but wanted to see whether there is a majority in order for it (the voting of the law drafted by PNL – editor’s note) to take place faster. We support two-round elections; we found out with sadness that the parliamentary majority opposes them. PSD, UNPR and ALDE oppose it. The Premier did not inform us whether he has taken a decision or not. If a shift takes place within the former alliance’s bloc, such a measure could be adopted through the government taking responsibility for it,” Daniel Fenechiu stated.
Traian Basescu: “Two rounds of elections, but not like PNL wants”
Popular Movement President Traian Basescu stated on Monday, after consultations with the Premier, that he supported the taking of responsibility on a package of laws that would include the two-round election of mayors and county council chairmen, however in his view the Premier will not get involved in modifying the law.
Traian Basescu stated that the Government has two options: taking responsibility or issuing an emergency ordinance.
“We agree with the Premier’s argument that it is not democratic to modify the electoral law through an emergency government ordinance. We were of the opinion that there are two options. The first would be for the government to take responsibility, but this is a profound act of government will, being at the same time much more democratic than an emergency ordinance, since it is subjected to constitutionality control, the President can send it to Parliament or the Constitutional Court,” Basescu stated after consultations. He emphasised that two-round local elections are necessary, but not like PNL wants.
Mircea Geoana: “The old political system’s desperate attempt to prevent the emergence of a new generation”
Senator Mircea Geoana, leader of the PSRo delegation, confirmed that Premier Dacian Ciolos stated that he does not plan to issue an emergency ordinance or to take responsibility, information that Liviu Dragnea had previously disclosed.
“Mr. Ciolos does not want to pick up the hot potato that the two parties – PSD and PNL – agreed on last year. (…) We are witnessing the old political system’s desperate attempt to prevent the emergence of a new generation. (…) Mr. Ciolos confirmed for us that he does not plan to use instruments such as an emergency ordinance or the taking of responsibility,” Mircea Geoana stated.