“Le roi est mort, vive le roi!”
The Liberal leader Ludovic Orban – the PM dismissed on Wednesday through a motion of no confidence following the vote of 261 MPs from Bucharest, was again designated, only one day after removal, to occupy the PM position and form a new government by the right wing president Klaus Iohannis. Fresh from marathon talks with the representatives of all parliamentary parties and groups, the Romanian president announced his decision and expressed his wish to hold early parliamentary elections.
Klaus Iohannis: “Returning to the voters is the correct solution. To put it simply, returning to the electorate means early elections. And holding early elections is my first option.”
But, for holding early elections, Parliament should reject two consecutive proposals for prime minister. Until then, according to the Constitution, the candidate to the PM position must ask, within 10 days from his designation, for Parliament’s vote of confidence on his program and government membership. Ludovic Orban said he would maintain the ministers of the former cabinet, because he is contented with their activity, and since the National Liberal Party is in favor of early elections, the Liberals decided to reject any proposal for a new government.
Ludovic Orban: “There is no party holding an absolute majority in Parliament on its own, therefore it’s the president who decides on the candidate for the position of PM. From my point of view, I believe we can have early elections.”
Until holding a vote in Parliament for the second Orban government, the interim leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party, Marcel Ciolacu, announced he was considering notifying the Constitutional Court in relation to the designation of the outgoing PM Ludovic Orban as the new PM: “After obtaining the largest number of votes ever in Parliament for a no confidence motion, I doubt that the re-designation of Ludovic Orban as PM is legal. I am not an expert in constitutional matters, but we’ll certainly ask for clarifications until getting a vote in Parliament.”
In the no confidence motion, the Social Democrats alongside the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania accuse the Orban government of having infringed on the democratic principles, because they preferred assuming responsibility for the law on the election of mayors in two rounds of voting only a few months ahead of the local elections, out of political reasons and not in the interest of citizens.
According to the Social Democratic Party, the first Orban government violated decisions of the Constitutional Court and recommendations of the European institutions. The Liberals argued, however, that returning to the election of mayors in two rounds will give them more legitimacy and representation. Anticipating the scenario of a defeat during Wednesday’s vote, one evening earlier, the first Orban cabinet adopted a record number of emergency decrees, namely 25, of which some were vehemently contested by part of the public opinion in Romania.
International reactions to the sacking of the Orban cabinet
Romania’s latest political developments did not go unnoticed by the international press. According to Radio Free Europe, the Orban cabinet fell after only 3 months in office, through a no-confidence vote initiated by the opposition Social Democrats (PSD) and endorsed by a Parliament majority made up of the PSD, the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) and Pro Romania. The total number of yes-votes stood at 261, exceeding even the PSD estimates.
The situation was caused by several mistakes, which enraged both the Social Democrats and also the parties that used to back the Orban cabinet. In turn, Deutsche Welle believes the present political crisis in Romania looks more like an endless political loop and not a real chance to a fresh start. Bloomberg, Euronews, the New York Times, Le Monde, Le Figaro, La Croix, Courrier International, La Libre Belgique have also covered Romania’s latest political crisis and so have the Al Jazeera TV channel in English as well as several sites such as euractiv.com, euobserver.com and politico.eu.
Flu epidemic and coronavuris
Against the background of an increasing number of flu-related deaths, authorities on Thursday declared a flu epidemic in Romania. According to the National Center for the Control and Supervision of Communicable Diseases, the number of infections has doubled as compared to previous estimates and to the number registered last week and the flu virus has been confirmed in 60% of the cases tested. Officials have cautioned against the flu infections, which is likely to maintain its upward trend in the following weeks, but this is not unexpected as many people have not been vaccinated. The Romanian authorities have also given assurances they have taken all the protection measures against the coronavirus.
Winter has finally arrived in Romania
After more than two months of warm, spring-like weather, most of Romania’s territory has this week been hit by a wave a cold weather with snowfalls and blizzard. Road, rail, maritime and air traffic has been disrupted and many towns and villages have been left without electricity. Gale-force winds have broken down trees and destroyed roofs. The extreme weather phenomena have prompted the authorities to close down schools. And speaking about winter and extreme weather conditions, we cannot wrap up this programme without mentioning the performance obtained by a 45 year old Romanian, Tiberiu Useriu, who has come second in the Yukon Arctic Ultra race, staged every year close to the Arctic Circle. Tibi Useriu has covered the 500 kilometer distance in 7 days and 33 minutes. Yukon Arctic Ultra is a tougher race than 6633 Arctic Ultra, Tibi managed to win three years in a row. (translation by L. Simion and D. Bilt)