The investiture vote for the second Orban cabinet might not take place on Monday, February 24, as previously scheduled.
Last year, the Romanian Social Democrats surprisingly lost the EP elections, the governing and the presidential election. Also in 2019, the PSD strongman Liviu Dragnea was imprisoned for corruption leaving the party without a leader. After these unexpected blows, few would have imagined that the main leftist party in Romania would continue to call the tune or at least to spoil their political adversaries’ game.
The Social Democrats still have a say in political procedures as they have held a relative majority in Parliament since 2016, the year of the latest elections. And this very majority forced the first minority Liberal government headed by Ludovic Orban to avoid parliamentary debate on some of its bills, and to eventually resort to the procedure of assuming responsibility for those respective bills. The government assumed responsibility also for the bill on reintroducing the election of mayors in two rounds, a move that proved fatal.
Worried that the new voting system might influence negatively their results at the summer local elections, the Social Democratic Party joined forces to gather all the political groups which were opposed to the bill, and dismissed the first Orban government through a motion of no confidence. Now, they are playing the majority card again to thwart the Liberals’ plans to hold early elections. The Social Democrats are set to boycott the government meeting of Monday, February 24, when the second Orban government has to receive the investiture vote.
According to the Social Democratic interim leader Marcel Ciolacu, they want to expect the decision of the Constitutional Court which is going to examine, also on Monday, the possible legal conflict between Parliament and the Presidential Administration regarding the designation of Ludovic Orban to the position of PM for a second time. The Social Democrats believe that the president defied the MPs by designating a prime minister that had just been dismissed by Parliament.
However, constitutional law experts claim that the PSD notification of the Court is ungrounded and that the president has the right to designate whomever he wants, in the absence of a party that holds an absolute majority, according to a previous ruling of the Constitutional Court. Observers are convinced that the move is another subterfuge of the Social Democrats who are doing their best to avoid observing the period of two months in which two governments should be dismissed for Parliament to be dissolved and early elections to be called.
If quorum is not achieved on Monday, the investiture vote will be postponed and thus the procedure for early elections delayed. The PSD will equally vote against the emergency decree regulating legislative elections, which brings important modifications to the vote in the Diaspora, from the voting period of 3 days to the doubling of the number of the Diaspora’s representatives in Parliament.
Cautious and attentive to the reaction of the Romanians from abroad, Marcel Ciolacu announced that all the measures targeting the Diaspora would be included in a bill initiated by his own party. Meanwhile, the Liberals are reiterating their will to call early elections, which they consider the only way to overcome the current political deadlock, since they would allow the creation of a solid center-rightist majority. The Save Romania Union is in favor of early elections, but the rest of the parliamentary parties are opposed to them, because they risk not being included in the future parliament. (translation by L. Simion)