Romanian president calls Parliament back from winter recess to vote on changing electoral system

Inquam Photos / Ilona Andrei

The power struggle between Romania’s political parties continued Monday with President Klaus Iohannis calling Parliament back from the winter recess to vote on changing the voting system in local elections.

The move came after the opposition Social Democracy Party said it had obtained sufficient signatures to submit a vote of no-confidence against the minority Liberal government.

Lia Olguta Vasilescu, a former labor minister, said the all the party’s 198 lawmakers had signed the motion.

The party that represents the interests of ethnic Hungarians, the Union of Democratic Hungarians in Romania, also says it will vote to oust the minority government of Ludovic Orban which took office in November.

To be successfully submitted, a motion of no-confidence requires the signatures of 116 lawmakers, one-fourth of all lawmakers in the two-chamber Parliament.

The Social Democrats and the Hungarian party together have 228 seats, five short of the number needed to dismiss Orban’s government.  

However, they are in a bind. If they successfully dismiss Orban’s government, it could lead to snap elections, which they don’t want.

They will also have to vote next week on Orban’s proposal to revert to two rounds of voting in local elections, something he says would give mayors greater legitimacy.

If the Social Democrats vote against that, it could also eventually lead to early elections.

Iohannis, who supports the Liberals, kept up the pressure with his announcement Monday to call Parliament back from its recess next week to vote on a government proposal to change the voting system in local elections.

The Social Democrats want to stick with the current first past the post system, which guarantees them more seats.  

The party was sent into opposition after it was dismissed in a no-confidence vote in October.

Romania holds local elections this summer and parliamentary elections are scheduled for the fall.

Vasilescu said that the Social Democrats would also negotiate with other parties and non-affiliated lawmakers for the extra votes to dismiss Orban’s government.

If parliament rejects two successive proposals from the prime minister within 60 days, it triggers a snap election which the Social Democrats don’t want.

There is no timetable for the vote. Parliament is due to reconvene on Feb. 1.


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