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January 18, 2022

Gov’t adopts GEO amending electoral law: County council chairs to be chosen by direct election. Vehement reaction from Cotroceni Palace: A concession the PM wants to make for PSD barons

The government passed an emergency ordinance that provides for the election of the county council chairs by direct voting by the citizens, Deputy Prime Minister Daniel Suciu said on Monday.

He stated that he received points of view on direct election from 34 county council chairmen, and 29 of them support the amending of the legislation. According to the minister, county council chairmen from the PNL are among those supporting it.

“The objective criticism levelled against the indirect election of county council chairmen, namely that county council chairmen were elected via political party games, via negotiations that sometimes have nothing to do with the popular vote. Starting today (Monday – e.n.) it ends. The Romanians’ massive vote on May 26 has an immediate result,” Regional Development and Public Administration Minister Daniel Suciu stated at the end of the Government meeting, before the Presidency criticised the Government emergency ordinance (GEO).

At the same time, the Government official stated that he received the points of view of 34 county council chairmen, 29 of whom are in favour of the GEO re-introducing direct elections. Daniel Suciu added that there are also county council chairmen who are PNL members and who support direct elections.

“Lately, I’ve had consultations with the National Union of County Councils, and I also have the opinions of 34 county council chairmen, representing all the political forces who have chairmen at local level. Of the 34 chairmen who have sent their points of view, 29 support the amending of the legislation, and they include representatives of the parties that are in the Opposition today. I’m talking about PNL’s county council chairmen. I’ll give you some examples: Alba, Arad, Brasov, Calarasi, Sibiu and Suceava,” Suciu added.


PM Dancila: County council presidents to be elected by local community through vote


Prime Minister Viorica Dancila on Monday stated, in the beginning of the Government meeting, that they will modify the law of such a manner that the county council presidents will be elected through direct vote by the local community.

“We have a normative act to discuss today based on which we intend to change the manner in which county council presidents are elected. I understood the citizens’ message and their desire to play an important role in what concerns the election of the decision-making factors and also their desire to express their options through vote in what concerns the measures to be taken at the level of their community. We will modify the law so that the county council presidents to be elected, through direct vote, by the local community. Returning to the uninominal vote will increase the legitimacy, representativeness and stability of the county council presidents, who together with the mayors and councilors implement the projects meant for the development of the respective local communities,” said Dancila.

She added that the county council presidents mustn’t be the object of negotiations among parties, but represent the will of the citizens in every county, expressed through vote.

“The legitimacy given by vote is essential for every county council president, for it makes him/her more responsible in implementing the objectives which the citizens voted him/her for. I made this decision as a step forward in understanding the message given by the citizens at the elections to the European Parliament and also as a result of the talks with the representatives of the local communities,” said the PM.


Dobrovolschi: Change in electoral law under Gov’t ordinance called PM’s concession to PSD barons


Madalina Dobrovolschi, the spokeswoman for President Klaus Iohannis, said on Monday that the change in the electoral law made on Monday under an emergency ordinance to introduce the single-member electoral system for the election of the county council chairs is in fact a concession that the premier wants to make to the “barons” of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) to win their support.

According to Dobrovoschi, Iohannis believes that to be like changing the rules while the game is on.

“PSD has not understood anything of these polls that it has lost in a catastrophic way and it is again resorting to the box with emergency ordinances, trying to change the rule of the game while the game is on, which is unacceptable. The vote of the Romanians should not subject to PSD’s disdain. The citizens have made it very clear to them that the practice of emergency ordinances has to stop. This instrument is provided for in the Constitution exclusively for exceptional situations. In no way should it be used abusively and non-transparently. The change in the electoral law made today under an emergency ordinance to introduce the single-member vote system for the election of the chairs of county councils is in fact a concession that Prime Minister Viorica Dancila wants to make to the PSD barons to win their support. Clearly, if the legislation changes as stated by the prime minister, the current county chairs – namely Marian Oprisan, Dumitru Buzatu and Ionel Arsene – would stand to gain. These PSD barons, panicked by the party’s downfall in polls, are doing their worst to secure the offices for them, despite the will of the Romanians. This is something that cannot be accepted,” Dobrovolschi said at Cotroceni Palace.

According to the spokesperson, Iohannis pointed out that a county is not a community with its own identity, and a county council chair must in no way be mistaken for a mayor.

“All over the world, the mayor represents the community, and all other forms of organisation are different administrative entities. Moreover, even the Constitution expressly stipulates that the local public administration authorities are mayors, local councils and county councils. The Constitution does not elevate county council chairs to authorities of the public administration, and therefore it is not mandatory or necessary to elect them by a direct vote. The argument put forward by the government – that the county council chairs should be elected by the people – cannot be sustained, because there is no such thing as a people of the county. What’s more, the argument hides the despair of PSD, which has understood that it is about to lose the leadership and the majority in very many county councils. Should PSD really be concerned with the proper functioning of the public administrations with rectifying the local elections, the solution is very clear – the adoption of two-round elections for mayors,” added the presidential spokeswoman.


Orban: Insolent decision, completely unconstitutional, contrary to the will expressed by Romanians at the referendum


PNL President Ludovic Orban considers that the Government decision to have county council chairmen chosen through direct elections is “insolent,” “completely unconstitutional,” pointing out that the Executive has remained the prisoner of “the red barons,” giving Marian Oprisan, Niculae Badalau and Paul Stanescu as examples.

At the end of the National Political Bureau meeting, Orban stated that the Government has “glaringly” infringed upon the decision taken by Romanians at the May 26 referendum, by changing the way county council chairmen are elected, the chairmen set to be voted directly by the population.

“A week after Romanians clearly decided at the referendum that they no longer want ordinances on the judiciary and that they want the constitutional oversight of ordinances to be triggered by other institutions aside from the Ombudsman, the Government issues – by glaringly infringing upon the will of the Romanians – an emergency ordinance seeking to make the PSD’s barons – the red barons – eternal by changing the system of electing the chairmen of county councils, more precisely by modifying the way they are elected, namely by having them elected in direct elections,” Orban said.

He considers that this decision is “insolent” and “unconstitutional” and runs counter to the will that Romanians expressed at the referendum.

“This insolent decision, completely unconstitutional, contravenes both the will expressed by Romanians at the referendum and the general, quasi-general will present in Romanian society, which supports two-round mayoral elections. We cannot understand the urgency of adopting such a legislative act, we cannot understand why it wasn’t possible to come up in the case of the bill tabled by the PNL on two-round mayoral elections, why the parliamentary majority was unable to come up with an amendment during the parliamentary debate and propose during the parliamentary debate the point of view they have regarding the election of county council chairmen. It’s clear that this Government has remained the prisoner of the red barons, the prisoner of Oprisan, the prisoner of Badalau, Paul Stanescu and all the figures of sad recollection that have kept their counties in poverty and have governed through abuse and by threatening the citizens in the counties in which they still hold the offices of county council chairmen,” the PNL leader said.

Orban added that the PNL will ask the Ombudsman to notify the Constitutional Court about this ordinance.

“The PNL cannot accept such a manner of regulation. We will turn to the Ombudsman to ask it to once again notify the Constitutional Court regarding the adoption of this unconstitutional emergency ordinance, and this time we expect the Ombudsman to consider what the Romanians decided at the referendum, at least during the last stretch of his term in office. At any rate, keeping Ombudsman Victor Ciorbea in office is illegal,” Orban added.


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