Romania sets the date of local elections on June 5
Romania’s technocratic government on Wednesday set June the 5th as the date for the local elections. Also, in order to ensure the smooth running of the elections, the Government earmarked more money from the state budget than at the previous elections - around 75 million euros. Candidacies for mayors and local counsellors may be submitted between April 11th and 26th. The election campaign will start on May 6th and will last 30 days. In the case of equal score or fraud, a new round of voting will be held on June 19th. Unhappy with the current election law and supporting the idea of a two-round system, the National Liberal party has announced its intention to sue the Government. The co-president of the National Liberal Party, Alina Gorghiu.
Alina Gorghiu: “There is no democracy in Romania if our attempt to introduce the two-round voting system fails. If the current law is maintained, only 15 or 17% of mayors will be changed. But if the two-round system is introduced, more than 70% will be new mayors.”
The local elections in June will be followed by the legislative elections in autumn.
The Government green lights anti-poverty package
Prime minister Dacian Ciolos has warned that many people in Romania are below the poverty line, including 1.7 million children. In order to support them, the Government this week launched an anti-poverty strategy for the long run. Dacian Ciolos has proposed a plan of measures that combine European funds with funds from the state budget.
Dacian Ciolos: “Apart from support for medical screening, we must ensure that all new-born children have access to vaccination and receive an identity. There are cases of children whose families don’t have a fixed domicile and for this reason they are left without identity documents, which leads to exclusion. We also plan to expand the programme Every Child in Kindergarten with several measures aimed at providing pre-school children with school supplies, clothing and vitamin supplements. Another objective for school-age children is to prevent school dropout.”
Social assistance and professional integration programmes are also included in the Government’s anti-poverty package.
Healthcare in Romania
Prevention costs less than treatment, while the effects of special programmes become visible in five to ten years. Starting from this principle, several Liberal MPs have drafted a bill according to which people who refuse to take part in national prevention programmes must partially or fully cover the costs of medical treatment on their own expense in case they become sick. The controversial bill is publicly debated until March 1st. In another move, The National Centre for the Surveillance and Control of Contagious Diseases has announced that swine fever made eight victims in the first week of February. This season, 9 Romanians died after getting infected with the AH1N1 virus. The health and sanitary authorities are on the alert, after tens of babies and toddlers under two have been taken to hospitals in Bucharest and Arges County, in southern Romania, with severe bacterial digestive infections and a high risk of kidney failure.
The leadership of the National Fiscal Administration Agency has been sacked
Daniel Diaconescu has taken over as interim president of the National Fiscal Administration Agency. The announcement was made shortly after Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos on Thursday sacked the president of the institution, Gelu Diaconu. The latter and the vice-president of this institution, Mihai Gogancea Vatasoiu, who has also been dismissed, are prosecuted in a corruption file in which MPs Madalin Voicu, of the Social Democratic Party, and Nicolae Paun, a representative of the Roma community in Parliament, are also being investigated. For the two MPs, the anti-corruption prosecutors have requested endorsement from Parliament for preventive detention. Madalin Voicu and Nicolae Paun are accused of misappropriation of European funds while developing projects for Roma communities. According to the prosecutors, between 2010 and 2015, under the pretence of helping thousands of ethnic Roma find a job or become entrepreneurs, the two crafted a plan that allowed them to divert money and use 6 million euros to their personal benefit.
The first Romanian communist head warden arrested
The former head warden of the Penitentiary in Ramnicu Sarat, south-eastern Romania, Alexandru Visinescu, now 90, was taken to prison on Wednesday, just hours after he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for crimes against humanity by the High Court of Cassation and Justice. This is the first ruling of its kind passed by Romanian courts with respect to offences committed under the communist regime. Between 1956 and 1963, when Visinescu was the head of the penitentiary, political prisoners, people who had opposed the communist regime, were subjected to inhuman treatment. Judge Valentin Selaru explains:
Valentin Selaru: “The Court notes that while a commander of the Ramnicu Sarat Penitentiary, the defendant Alexandru Visinescu subjected the community of prisoners to inhuman treatment, physical and psychological torture and extermination, and did so for political reasons.”
Many of the prisoners died following a slow but efficient process of physical and psychological torture. According to historians, over 600,000 Romanians were thrown into prison for political reasons during the communist dictatorship, between 1947 and 1989.