Internal Affairs

Snap Elections

As far as PSD is concerned, interim president Marcel Ciolacu stated as recently as three days ago that in the February parliamentary session, PSD will call for a no-confidence vote. The text of this motion would also be dependent on the decision of the Constitutional Court to accept or decline the notice sent over the budget for 2020. However, this is a line that PSD and Ciolacu have been toeing since before Christmas. Ciolacu and other PSD members advised that a no-confidence vote could be called for reasons varying from the Government assuming responsibility for the budget or for modifications to the justice laws, and PSD has even passed a no-confidence vote against the Minister for Public Finance. Daniel Zamfir, a relatively new addition to the Senate group of PSD, has criticized the effort to bring about snap elections. Victor Ponta shares the idea of Marius Budăi, former Minister for Labor, that PNL wants snap elections in order to be able to not enforce the
pensions law. He has not shown support for this cause.

Just as PSD has been touting the idea of a no-confidence vote, PNL has been touting the idea of snap elections since early after assuming governance. President Klaus Iohannis has repeated over a few press conferences the fact that snap elections are a natural follow up of the no-confidence vote PNL won in October. This week, Ludovic Orban announced the start of discussions with political partners, in view of snap elections. There is an ominous silence in PNL regarding support for this course of action. While Rareș Bogdan and Ludovic Orban have declared that they will happen, there is a shortage of notable members coming out in support of it. According to the former, elections could take place in February or April, since USR, UDMR and PMP support this course of action. Traian Băsescu is sceptical that early elections will be held.

USR has largely been in favor of having snap elections, through the voice of president Dan Barna, MP Claudiu Năsui or Cosette Chichirău having offered credit to this notion since May of last year. For USR this may be chance indeed to get more seats in Parliament, however PLUS is even keener to have elections than their partner. As a matter of fact, Dacian Cioloș has recently suggested to Ludovic Orban that after the Government assuming responsibility for legislative changes (including
electing mayors in two turns), and if PSD calls for the no-confidence vote, then the road would be open for snap elections.

UDMR president Kelemen Hunor has also declared in favor of snap elections, stating that instability has been a key feature of governments over the past 12 years and that his party is keen on finding stability. Korodi Atilla has also supported this statement. UDMR is in favor of having snap elections before the local elections in June 2020.

Călin Popescu Tăriceanu is not a supporter of snap elections and has openly stated that a resignation from the PM would be an act of disregard towards the Parliament.

At this point, it is possible that PNL will attempt to force snap elections by either altering the law for local elections to have mayors elected in two turns and wait for PSD to call for a no-confidence vote, as Marcel Ciolacu stated they would, or to resign and have two cabinets rejected by the Parliament. Even so, it is unlikely PNL will start the process in January, as they have lengthy negotiations ahead. The polls show that USR Plus may not get near the percentage they had in the last general elections, thus they will have to strongly negotiate their potential Government positions.

This is because, by this point, most PNL leaders have understood that the window of opportunity to gain a majority in Parliament is short and that they have to act now. Acting now, while PSD still has not had its Executive Committee meeting to elect new leadership and is still hurt by the no-confidence vote will bolster the chances of the right to secure a majority in Parliament. This is further supported by polls showing an increase in vote preference for PNL and a decrease for PSD and its possible allies. As such, acting now would be the only time that PSD can truly be forced to score beneath 30% and head for the opposition.

Other Updates

Ludovic Orban stated that PNL will seek the best way to obtain mayoral elections in two turns. This is important because PSD has mentioned last fall that if PNL tries to modify electoral legislation, a no-confidence vote will be called. However, PM Ludovic Orban has stated that assuming responsibility may be a bit rash and we must not anticipate that yet.

Economic and Fiscal Updates

The Government has loaned RON 1,6 billion from the banks this month already and has a target to obtain up to RON 5 billion before the month is out. Pensions are also set to rise by 40% this year, with Governor Mugur Isărescu stating that it would be better if the increase was smaller. PNL has been accused of wanting snap elections to stop the pensions increase, however, it is just as true that governing is difficult with a minority in parliament. No concrete plan to increase collection is in place yet, however Minister Cîțu advised that the deficit will not go above 3,6%. He also plans to increase the contribution to the 2nd pillar of pensions to 5% this. year.

Despite the mounting government debt, the World Bank has improved predictions for Romania for 2020.


Issue Monitoring