EXCLUSIVE: Two-round municipal election unconstitutional, RMDSZ to back vote of no confidence: Party President Kelemen

In an exclusive TransylvaniaNOW interview, the leader of the ethnic Hungarian political party in Romania says it will back a vote of no confidence challenging the Ludovic Orban Government.

The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania will fight tooth and nail the liberal government’s plan to introduce a two-round system just a few months before the municipal elections are due, President Hunor Kelemen told TransylvaniaNOW in an exclusive interview.

“The (Romanian) Constitutional Court and the Venice Commission have independently declared that the rules cannot be changed just a few months before the election is due,” Kelemen said. “The legitimacy and democratic nature of a single-round and a two-round municipal election is equal.”

He said that previous experience showed that under a two-round system, Romanian political parties would form coalitions against the Hungarian candidate left standing, irrespective of their political views or ideologies.

“Let us suppose a case where one candidate gets 20 percent of the votes in the first round, while the other has 49 percent. Obscure coalitions would be established to oust the [leading] candidate, thus weakening Hungarian representation,” he said. Last October, RMDSZ representatives in both chambers of the Romanian parliament cast their votes to oust the then ruling Social-Democrats, supporting instead the formation of a minority, liberal government.

Now, however, RMDSZ has been left with no other choice than to join forces with the Social Democrats for the express purpose of preventing the introduction of a two-round system. Kelemen says that when Ludovic Orban’s government was installed last November, the new prime minister agreed with RMDSZ not to govern through cabinet decrees. The liberal cabinet has breeched that agreement.

“We had no other choice but to join the motion of no confidence, as it was the only way to block the change in the electoral system,” Kelemen said. “We said it before: we would team up with the devil himself, if we must.”

He said that realistically, municipal elections will be held either on June 14 or June 21 at the latest, as any later date would mean that municipalities will be past their legal mandate. If the motion of no confidence fails, RMDSZ will challenge in the Constitutional Court the government decree changing the electoral system.

“The constitutional court – based on its previous ruling that the system cannot be changed at the last minute – will have to uphold its position,” Kelemen said. He added that while Romania would be much better off, if it were to hold legislative elections in parallel with municipal elections, chances of that happening are very slim.

“In the past eight years Romania had nine governments, leading to a political instability that is most evident in the high premiums Romania must pay on its loans, so it would be imperative to have stable government as soon as possible”, he said. “However, seeing how the Social Democrats are against early elections and the Liberal Party is divided on the issue, I would currently bet that [legislative] elections will be held in November.”

Title image: RMDSZ President Hunor Kelemen (photo: RMDSZ/Tamás Gönczy)

Author: Dénes Albert