The political class in Bucharest is in turmoil ahead of the summer holiday.
Romanians’ vote at the May 26 European elections sent to Brussels representatives of six political parties. The National Liberal Party (PNL), the main party in the right-of-center opposition, got most of the votes, 27%, and 10 MEP seats. Following are two rather equal political parties namely, the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the main party in the ruling coalition and the 2020 Alliance USR-PLUS, in the opposition, with around 22.5% and 8 MEP seats each. With 5% - 6% of the votes, Pro Romania, the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) and the People’s Movement Party (PMP) got 2 seats each. All other seven parties that competed in the election did not reach the 5% threshold and will not have any representatives in the European Parliament.
That includes the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), a junior partner in the government coalition. At the same time with the European elections, a national referendum on justice was held in Romania. Out of the 7 million people who voted at the referendum, some 6.5 million answered 'yes' to banning amnesty and pardon for corruption offenses and to banning the adoption by the Government of emergency ordinances in the area of crimes, punishments and judiciary organization. The confusion inside the left-of-center alliance was amplified soon after the referendum by the incarceration of the Social Democratic leader Liviu Dragnea, officially the third-most powerful man in Romania as Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, who was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for corruption.
Already vulnerable, the ruling coalition will have to deal with a censure motion, tabled by the opposition against the cabinet headed by the interim chief of the Social Democrats, PM Viorica Dancila. Romania urgently needs a government with a pro-European vision, Liberal MP Gigel Stirbu said on Wednesday, when the motion was read in Parliament: “The Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats have split the country, destroyed the role of its fundamental institutions, mutilated important laws, compromised the chance to modernize the country and constantly attempted to destroy the foundation of Romanian democracy and the rule of law.”
Initiated by the National Liberal Party (PNL), the Save Romania Union (USR) and the People’s Movement Party (PMP), the motion was signed by 173 senators and deputies. It takes 233 votes for the motion to pass. The Pro Romania party and the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), have promised to support the motion. Liviu Dragnea’s successor at the helm of the Chamber of Deputies, the Social Democrat Marcel Ciolacu, is convinced the motion will not pass: “Our strategy is to reject the motion. We did not have to decide whether or not to vote the motion but only to ensure quorum. This is what the power must do. What our colleagues do is their own business. It’s not a matter of lack of trust.”
The motion will be debated and voted on Tuesday, June 18.
(Translated by Elena Enache)