On October 9th, the Parliament voted in favour of a censor motion against the Government led by PSD President Viorica Dăncilă. While the Dăncilă cabinet remains as an interim Government, it is now time for President Klaus Iohannis to decide on a future Prime-Minister. The President has already called on all parliamentary parties to come to Cotroceni on October 10th for consultations before coming forward with a new proposition for the Prime-Minister position. Given that there are some urgent situations that need to be resolved by a functioning Government (naming a third Romanian for the position of European Commissioner, adopting the second budgetary rectification and drafting the budget for the next year) we expect that Iohannis will make nominations as soon as possible. While, in theory, Iohannis can wait until after the presidential elections to make a nomination, he needs to be pro-active to appeal to his electorate. After actively criticising this Cabinet for the past three years, Iohannis cannot afford to stand idly by while Dăncilă holds the interim Government for another month.
Making a nomination that attracts the parliamentary majority is difficult since all the political actors that came together to take down the Government (PNL, USR, PMP, UDMR, Pro-Romania, ALDE and minorities) have different interests from this moment forward. This report will outline the main possible scenarios to solve this situation that might happen in the next few weeks.
The formation of a PNL Government
PNL leader Ludovic Orban already claimed that PNL (the biggest opposition party) will go to the negotiations with the proposition of a PNL Government with Ludovic Orban as Prime-Minister. Given that none of the other opposition parties want to take over the Government, it is likely that they will support a PNL Government even though PNL does not have a majority in the Parliament. PNL’s biggest allies, USR already claimed that even though USR does not want to be part of a non-elected Government, it will support a PNL proposition in this regard. This scenario is also favorable for PSD who will have the possibility of remaining in the opposition until the 2020 elections and will capitalize on the failures of the future Government. Given that Iohannis is the PNL candidate for this year’s presidential elections, he might choose to nominate a PNL Prime-Minister to win the sympathy of his electorate.
The President may opt to name an independent technocrat Government, similar to what he did in 2015, when Iohannis chose to nominate Dacian Cioloș, an independent and apolitical actor. The Prime-Minister might be a person that is not part of any parties but that is acceptable for the other members of the Parliament. This option, however, might be refused by the Parliament, especially since the interests of the other actors are either to form a Government or to trigger snap elections. There is, however, a benefit for the political parties in this scenario: they escape the burden of Governing in a challenging time.
A PSD & Pro-Romania & ALDE alliance Pro-Romania leader Victor Ponta came forwards claiming that he is negotiating with PSD to come forward with a joint proposal for a Prime-Minister. Ponta also stated that he has three Prime-Minister proposals that he will present Klaus Iohannis after a consultation with PSD. PSD, Pro-Romania and ALDE do have a parliamentarian majority and, if the consultations go well, they might get the chance of determining the next Government. It is most likely that Iohannis will refuse to name a Prime-Minister from one of these parties, especially since we expect Iohannis to maximise the benefits of this situation to gain votes in the presidential election. Naming a Prime-Minister from the same formations will not do him any favors.
The possibility of organizing snap elections was raised by USR few weeks before the censor motion when Barna wrote a „Pact for Snap Electons”. It is also the option that USR leader Dan Barna will present to Klaus Iohannis in the consultations. Klaus Iohannis already argued that he is in favor of organizing snap elections if there is a consensus for this option among the parliamentary parties. However, this scenario is problematic from two perspectives, both stipulated in Art. 89 of the Constitution. Firstly, snap elections cannot be organized in the last 6 months of the President’s mandate, this means that we will have to wait until after the presidential elections for this to happen. Secondly, for snap elections to be organized, the Parliament must be dissolved by the Romanian President. Iohannis may dissolve the Parliament only if the Parliament does not give a vote of confidence to two of his proposals for Prime-Ministers or if the Parliament takes more than 60 days to vote on the proposals. While this will prolongue a situation of political instability, it still requires the formation of a provisional Government until snap elections are organized. Furthermore, this would mean that MPs should be willing to give up the benefits that come with finnishing one’s mandate – a scenario that is highly unlikely. The only winners in this scenario is USR who has an interest in raising its number of MPs.
A PNL & USR & PMP & UDMR alliance
There is the possibility that opposition parties will form an alliance and propose Government that it is likely to pass the vote of confidence in the Parliament. This scenario is unlikely given USR’s firm position of not entering any Government coalitions. However, there is the possibility that the opposition parties might form an alliance to ensure a transitional Government until snap elections are organized. This possibility might appeal to USR who wants snap elections while also giving it the possibility of proving to its electorate that it is ready to take the responsibility of governing.
We must keep in mind that according to the Constitution, the interim Government can only function for 45 days. This is the deadline that President Klaus Iohannis must meet in naming another Prime-Minister.
Ioana Ene, Issue Monitoring