On December 14, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis invited political parties for the first round of consultations on the formation of a new government. At the parliamentary elections organized on December 6, the leftist Social Democrats (PSD) took a narrow lead over the governing center-right National Liberal Party (PNL): PSD now holds 28.9 percent of the lower house of parliament, and PNL has 25.5 percent. Nevertheless, with PSD lacking both a viable majority and political allies in the future parliament, smaller parties hold the balance of power, favoring a Liberal-led coalition, meaning that the PNL, the center-right USR-PLUS alliance and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (otherwise known by its Hungarian acronym RMDSZ) are likely to form a coalition government. “The delegation of the RMDSZ told the president that in light of the election results, it would be best if a center-right government was formed, based on a three-party coalition,” stated RMDSZ President Hunor Kelemen at a Monday press conference.
Following the elections, the Liberals, the USR-PLUS and the RMDSZ control over 53 percent of the parliamentary seats. The PNL and the USR-PLUS have not come to terms yet on who should lead the coalition government as Prime Minister.
As Hunor Kelemen noted, RMDSZ also has potential candidates who would be suited for the PM’s office, but the party will not present their choice, for now, to avoid more discord. The RMDSZ’s standpoint is that the party that secured the most parliamentary mandates ought to propose a Prime Minister. Nevertheless, Kelemen said that if the parties don’t reach an agreement by the next round of consultations with President Iohannis, RMDSZ will also name its own candidate for the office of Prime Minister.
As Kelemen affirmed, the most important task right now is to work out a government program that can tackle the problematic issues faced by infrastructure, agriculture, education and public healthcare. This program should also support national minorities in preserving their identity.
Moreover, RMDSZ believes it would increase the level of trust between the three parties if mathematical considerations would prevail as much as political viewpoints. “There are three coalition partners, thus each should get one out of the three of the most important political positions: One of the parties should nominate the Prime Minister, another should name the speaker of the House of Representatives, while the third should provide the speaker of the Senate,” detailed the president of RMDSZ. Furthermore, when allocating positions in the cabinet, the principle of proportionality ought to be used. When asked by the Maszol.ro news portal about the chances for RMDSZ to obtain the office of speaker in one of the houses of parliament, Kelemen said nothing is decided as of yet.
“The issues that at the moment are dividing the future coalition partners can be overcome with some patience. I trust that our fellow politicians will eventually put the public good ahead of political egos. Coalition talks never have been easy, but with a little more flexibility and vision, disagreements can be overcome,” said Kelemen, adding that the formation of a coalition government by December 23, or the end of the year, is a reachable goal.
The RMDSZ politician emphasized that the New Year should not begin with an interim government in office. He also added that RMDSZ does not support the idea of a technocratic cabinet, as the country needs a political government. “Coalition talks must continue, and political issues ought to be combined with mathematical considerations so that a state of balance, indispensable for the functioning of the cabinet, is reached,” concluded Kelemen.
At the press conference, he reiterated that the statement President Klaus Iohannis made in April regarding the autonomy bill of Szeklerland was a reckless gesture and probably a move in the political war between the Liberals and the Social Democrats. In a two-minute video statement, Iohannis had accused the ethnic Hungarians, the Social Democrats and also Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of plotting to give Transylvania to Hungary.
“This was a regrettable, false statement, and I do hope that in the future, we will be able to discuss other issues as well, for instance, a change in the attitude toward ethnic minorities,” the RMDSZ president noted. “I pleaded this year, as I have in previous years, for the Hungarian minority to be left out of political fights. We do not wish Romania ill, and we do not want to take away Transylvania, nor Oltenia, nor (Romanian) Moldavia; we simply want a better country for all of its citizens. At the moment, we look to the future, bearing in mind the mistakes of the past,” said Kelemen.
Upon finishing the consultation rounds with the political parties, the president will designate a PM, who must put together a cabinet within 10 days after his nomination, and then his government would have to be approved by parliament.
The National Liberal Party (PNL) already proposed Finance Minister Florin Cîţu a few days ago as the next leader of the cabinet. Nevertheless, Romanian news portals have found out from political sources that Ludovic Orban, who resigned on December 7, would like to be Prime Minister again, thus he has asked the Liberals to support him instead of Cîţu. Following Orban’s resignation, Iohannis appointed the Minister of National Defense, Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă, to be the interim prime minister until a new government is formed.
Title image: The RMDSZ delegation (at the table on the left) at the first round of consultations with President Iohannis (at the table on the right.)