Amendment transforms prefect position into political function

An amendment initiated by Minister of Development, Public Works and Administration Attila Cseke aims to bring transparency to the process of naming a prefect: From now on, the prefect can belong to a political party, contrary to previous legislation.

“The prefects and vice-prefects are named by the political parties forming the government,” Cseke said. Until now, Romanian law did not allow a prefect to belong to a political party, and one of the criteria to qualify for such a position was that the candidate be a public-sector employee. “The latter criteria was circumvented in the majority of cases, so we had to bring transparency to the process of appointing prefects and vice-prefects and clarify their powers,” Cseke added, as cited by Hungarian news portal Maszol.

Prefects in Romania’s 41 counties and the capital of Bucharest are government-appointed officials who generally oversee regional development, laws and emergency response, among other things. Local administrations, however, is provided by elected mayors and councils of individual settlements.

The amendment he initiated matches the RMDSZ’s goals outlined in the governing program and, more importantly, is in line with the European Commission’s request to clarify prefects’ political and professional roles.

The prefects and vice-prefects are public positions proposed by the governing parties; hence, they can be members of a political party. In order to separate the institution’s political and administrative roles, the amendment introduces the office of secretary of the prefecture, a position granted to high-profile public servants only. The secretaries must be politically neutral, and their status will be similar to that of notaries in local and county authorities. Current prefects and vice-prefects will be able to keep their roles for the next 30 days. After that, their status will change according to the new amendment.

As we previously reported, the three parties forming Romania’s Government have held negotiations regarding the naming of prefects. So far, it’s clear that RMDSZ has secured five prefect and 10 vice-prefect roles, but the names of the counties they will serve are still under wraps.

Title image: Attila Cseke, the Minister of Development, Public Works, and Administration. Image source: Bursa.ro

Author: István Fekete