Through an emergency ordinance, the Romanian government has amended the election law, a move that has attracted a lot of heat from the country’s president and from the opposition
Next year Romania will be seeing local elections, when citizens are to cast their ballot for mayors and members of local and county councils. The presidents of the county councils are to be again elected through direct voting in the local election, under an emergency ordinance the government endorsed on Monday
According to the executive, the move is meant to increase the legitimacy and representation and implicitly the responsibility of the county council presidents who at present are named by councilors, upon negotiations between parties. Here is Social-Democratic Deputy Prime Minister Dan Suciu with more on the new amendments.
Dan Suciu: "We would like to bring citizens closer to the decision-making process. So, one of the most important and representative positions at county level, that of County Council President, must be elected directly, through uninominal secret voting by all citizens, in order to legitimize and render responsible any local official elected in any county. "
In support of this measure the left-wing PSD-ALDE executive has invoked a request coming, as they say, from 30 county council presidents, including from the opposition, a figure accounting for three quarters of their total. Another Social Democrat, Marcel Ciolacu, president of the Chamber of Deputies, explained the amendment could be adopted only through an emergency ordinance in order to be applied in the coming election.
The quickly-endorsed amendments to the election law have been vehemently criticized in their form as well as in their essence. The presidents of county councils are among the most important people in the county and fund distribution towards a certain city or town hall largely hinges on them.
All the political groups are vying for this position and the newly-endorsed amendments are presently benefiting the incumbent council presidents, as the country's president Klaus Iohannis has pointed out. 'It's a concession, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila has made to the local PSD tycoons', Madalina Dobrovolschi, a spokeswoman for the Romanian presidency has said.
Madalina Dobrovolschi: "The PSD didn't understand anything from the all out defeat they suffered in the latest election for the European Parliament and is again resorting to the method of emergency ordinances, trying to change the rules of the game, right in the middle of it. And that's unacceptable."
The new emergency ordinance has also enraged the Liberals who have already announced they have called on the Ombudsman to challenge it at the Constitutional Court. Victor Ponta, president of PRO Romania party shares the same position adding that the PSD fails to understand that people are fed up with these strategies of arranging things through emergency ordinances.
We recall that at the latest referendum on justice, summoned by the country's president, which unfolded concurrently with the latest European Parliament elections, the voters overwhelmingly pronounced themselves against amnesties and pardons for those convicted of corruption as well as against emergency ordinances in the field of justice.
This government decision comes shortly after the European Parliament elections, which the ruling Social Democrats lost to the Liberals. The victors will have 10 MEP seats, PSD 9, the opposition 2020 USR-PLUS Alliance 8, whereas PRO Romania, The People Movement's Party and UDMR each have won two seats in the European Parliament.
(translated by bill)