Government introduces two-round election system on its own recognizance

The government has announced that it will modify the country’s election law on its own recognizance by introducing the much-disputed two-round election system. The prime minister has chosen this strategy in order to push the PSD towards submitting a motion of no-confidence. This could set the stage for early legislative elections, along with the dismissal of the government. PSD leaders have made it clear in the past that they will submit a motion of no-confidence if the Liberal government takes responsibility for the amendment to the election law.

News about the government’s plan to change the rules has been making the headlines this past week because the modification comes just ahead of the upcoming municipal elections. What wasn’t exactly clear, however, was how they wanted to do it. Sources speaking with the Digi24 television channel mentioned an emergency decree which would have little chance of passing in parliament, while those sharing the information with a ProTV News crew said that the government would simply assume responsibility for introducing the two-round election system.

The modification is a delicate topic because to oust the PSD government led by Viorica Dăncilă, the Liberal party had to form a majority with other parties, which means there were promises made and agreements signed. For example, in the agreement inked with the RMDSZ, Liberal party leaders had promised not to introduce the two-round election system this year. On the other hand, in another agreement signed with the Dacian Ciolos-led USR party, the liberals had promised to introduce this very change.

By introducing the two-round election system, the PNL is seeking to weaken the Socialist Party’s position, as it controls most of the mayor’s offices in the country. The current election law benefits the PSD in the upcoming municipal elections, meaning that the party will likely retain the same mayoral positions country-wide, which the Liberal Party and USR do not support at all. By changing the system to a two-round election, the PNL and supporting parties’ candidates would have a better chance of winning the mayoral positions.

There are two problems though: (1) the modification would damage the RMDSZ’s position. Estimates run by the Alliance estimate there will be about 20 percent fewer Hungarian mayors in Transylvania if the two-round election system is applied, and (2) the PNL will break its promise made last year to the RMDSZ. In other words, the RMDSZ won’t support any modification in the election law ahead of the municipal elections scheduled for this June.

Now it remains to be seen how the RMDSZ will react, as they made it clear that the Alliance won’t support the two-round election system. But they might still support the PSD’s motion of no-confidence, which will oust the current government.

Title image: Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban

Author: István Fekete