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October 6, 2022

The real elections are starting now

This Sunday’s parliamentary elections have brought absolutely nothing new.

After a quasi-inexistent campaign came a vote whose result was practically foreshadowed and announced even before the local elections.

We don’t know exactly when, in the span of half a year, from the moment of the social movement against anything political and against any political party – movement finalised with the appointment of an apolitical Government – and the moment of local elections, the party that most Romanians identified with the most numerous defects of communism and with the negative situation in the country ended up garnering most Romanians’ votes.

Or most votes of that small part of voters who turned out to vote. What is certain is that somewhere along this path of unanimously declared political shift, the results of the parliamentary elections became more than predictable and favourable for the Social Democrats.

At this moment, the foreshadowing and estimates are official data.

PSD has won the majority.

How they did so is the topic of a future analysis.

In Romania’s new Parliament, the 2016-2020 legislature, PSD, the only political party that represents the Romanian left wing, at least for now, will hold the majority. Absolute majority from a mathematical standpoint. Unstable and debatable from a political standpoint, in my opinion.

After these elections, which have become increasingly caricatural, sad and seemingly useless, the only thing I consider worthy to discuss at this moment is the one that also answers and explains the question: What kind of majority is the one that PSD obtained, what will it mean in the immediate and more distant future of politics and governance in Romania?

In Article 103, Paragraph 1, the Romanian Constitution stipulates that “the President of Romania shall designate a candidate to the office of Prime Minister, as a result of his consultation with the party which has obtained absolute majority in Parliament, or – unless such majority exists – with the parties represented in Parliament.”

In these conditions, I believe there is no longer any doubt for anyone which political party the President will consult. Just as there is no doubt that the rest of the political parties that entered Parliament will not take part in the consultations for the appointment of a Premier. Unless… President Iohannis, under the pretext of an absolutely democratic desire and for the sake of political openness will summon, in the form of a secondary participation, the other parliamentary parties too, arguing his decision through the fact that they too represent the legitimisation of citizens’ will and, consequently, the legitimisation of their participation to such consultations. Even without an executory title, such a decision would not be inopportune at all. On the contrary.

However, in such a case, there are obviously high chances that the majority party would accuse the President of breaking the Constitution, possibly showing him also the card that reads: risk of impeachment. An impeachment that would be carried out without problems, bearing in mind the majority held in Parliament. Theoretically. Practically, such attitude coming from PSD, despite the parliamentary majority it holds, could lead to a not at all favourable popular attitude and to an impeachment referendum result completely opposite to the Social Democrats’ desire. Of course, in the meantime the rest of the Opposition parties could score considerably not just in terms of PR but also in terms of any possible political combinations more or less natural… ideologically and morally. But which could propel them from the Opposition to the ruling power.

Now, I’m asking you: between a PSD with 50 percent in Parliament and a President with some clear constitutional prerogatives and powers, including the dissolving of Parliament, with a still partner Premier and at least two other political parties more than favourable, who holds the governance, albeit, in extremis, PSD’s first and temporary tipping of the scales?

Could it be that the following scenario no longer seems so distant or impossible to implement: After consulting the Speakers of the two Chambers and the leaders of the parliamentary groups, the Romanian President can dissolve Parliament if the latter did not give a vote of confidence to form a government within 60 days since the first request was made and only after rejection of at least two requests for investiture (Article 89, Paragraph 1 of the Romanian Constitution). Of course, after days, even weeks of parliamentary fighting, of arguments and political arrangements, of negotiations, accusations, of a budget that has to be voted and a current Government which stays in office. And for all this instability, all the chaos created at the highest level of the state, would Klaus Iohannis, Dacian Ciolos, Traian Basescu, PNL and USR be culpable or would Liviu Dragnea and PSD be culpable?

And if a referendum for the impeachment of the President were to have the same result and the same consequences as the one held for the impeachment of Traian Basescu, who would stand to lose?

Likewise, would another round of elections for another Parliament end just like the one yesterday?

History repeats. In Romania’s case, the interval at which history repeats is an extremely short one. Roughly once every four years, with every round of elections.

This time, the choice made was to enter the elections without the well-known alliance lever. Just as I said before in this sense, it was the moment to show Romanians, even at an illusory level, that each political party can take part in the elections on its own, assuming any result, although they all expressed themselves concerned by and willing to eliminate an electoral and political behemoth the likes of PSD.

Now, when the results are official and the figures are on the table, couldn’t this be the best moment for the minority parliamentary parties to unite against the “red menace”? A choice that Romanians would not disavow from any standpoint. Moreover, they would support and approve it. Just like they did in 2012, when the left wing and the right wing united against the danger that Traian Basescu represented. Now, he is no longer the danger that urgently asks for coalescing, but PSD is. Basically, the same model used in 2012 too, as well as on other occasions in post-1989 politics, but with roles cast differently.

In case the rest of the political parties form a formal coalition, a right-wing coalition, the share obtained would be considerable, and their participation in forming the Government would no longer seem so impossible. And if Calin Popescu Tariceanu could obtain from this coalition what he wants (does he still want the office of Senate Speaker?), the Social Democrat majority could turn into a tie, whose consequences would not be few or minor for PSD.

Last but not least, I consider it necessary to point out the social pressure factor. Not something to ignore and which can deteriorate.

Moreover, one should not forget Dacian Ciolos. The one who represents two parties whose combined score is very close to PSD’s score.

The conclusion is that these elections have been like a grade-C movie but with a blockbuster’s budget, with bad actors and an execrable screenplay. Bad lines, which insult the intelligence of the viewer, and a more than predictable ending. However, the period that follows will open a new stage, not just a political stage, which, this time, will bring that new element that is so necessary. A new form of governance and an entirely different political and party configuration, beyond everything that now looks so limited and eternally linear.

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