Why the social democrats and the National Liberal Party are happy with the fall of Ludovic Orban’s government?
This article was published on 6 February 2020 on the Polish site “Strajk”.
Just three months after being sworn in, the right-wing Romanian government led by Ludovic Orban lost the vote of no confidence in parliament. However, it remains a favorite in the inevitable early elections.
The motion of censure was submitted by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) – a formation that has a rather loose, though nonetheless connection, with the ideology declared in the name. It won the support of UDMR deputies, a party representing the Hungarian minority. 233 votes were needed to win yesterday’s vote – they were against government 261.
The fall of the government seems to be not so bad news for the National Liberal Party (PNL) that makes it up. Polls give her up to 47 percent support, which is twice as much as PSD. Romanian media even informed at the beginning of the year that there was a meeting between the right-wing prime minister and the same president Klaus Iohannis, during which they wondered how to provoke early elections.
Why did PSD take this game? The motion of censure was submitted after the government proposed to change the electoral code for local government elections. The heads of municipal and rural self-governments (in Romania at all levels of self-government are called their primar) would be elected in two rounds, not one. – If this change were to pass, PSD would lose a lot – comments in an interview with Portal Strike Vladimir Mitev, a leftist Bulgarian journalist specializing in Romanian affairs. – PSD is strong in local governments, and later uses these local influences to maximize support in parliamentary elections. This is the mechanism they created when the party was led by Ion Iliescu [immediately after the fall of Ceausescu – ed. IFC]. In Romania, there is a perception that if the primar and the Orthodox clergy jointly support the PSD, they are able to convince the majority of the inhabitants to vote for this party.
Vladimir Mitev is also sure that it is worth taking suspicions seriously, which appeared among others in the Romanian leading daily Adevarul. According to them, the interim PSD leader Marcel Ciolacu gets along behind the scenes with Ludovik Orban, because both parties would be on hand to preserve the duopoly and eliminate weaker competitors from the political scene. It would be primarily about the center-right, representing itself as anti-establishment Union of Salvation of Romania (USR), which won four seats in the last Euro-elections, but is weakening and may not survive early voting. At the same time, there is no unity in the PSD itself. One faction is associated with former chairman Liviu Dragnea, who has been convicted of corruption, and the other gathers around Ciolacu, who needs some quick success before the party congress scheduled for February.
Before early elections, President Iohannis can still summon the leaders of the largest factions for consultations and give a chance to form a new government. Here, both PNL and PSD declare ambitious plans: the Social Democrats announce that they will nominate a candidate and try to win the majority for him, PNL – that Orban will create a new cabinet. Regardless of this, national liberals secure their electoral opportunities. By exercising the government’s right to make specific changes by decree, before voting on the motion of censure, they shortened the statutory deadline for compulsory preparations for elections, abolished the obligation to vote in the constituency corresponding to registration, extended the voting time for those living abroad to 3 days and increased the pool of seats for based on the diaspora vote. The Romanian opposition has no doubt that all these movements are meant to help the right wing and can also facilitate ordinary electoral fraud.
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