The center-left Pro Romania party, led by Victor Ponta, would reorganize the administrative divisions of the country, stated Agerpres news agency citing the manifesto presented at the party’s national congress on Sunday. The document also emphasizes some other priorities that – according to the party’s standpoint – would help Romania’s progress.
The administrative reform proposed by Pro Romania mainly consists of reducing the number of counties from 41 to 15. Currently, the total number of territorial administrative districts is above 3,000, which Ponta’s party would also reduce to a maximum of 1,500. Furthermore, Pro Romania would like to narrow the number of parliamentarians as well, stating that a maximum of 300 deputies and 100 senators would be enough.
According to its Constitution, Romania’s territory is organized administratively into counties, municipalities, cities and communes. There are 41 counties, plus the capital city of Bucharest, which has a special administrative status.
This is not the first time that Victor Ponta, former Prime Minister (2012–2015) and former leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), has suggested an administrative reform. In 2012, he wanted to keep the existing counties of Romania but group them into regions.
The manifesto agreed upon at the Pro Romania congress also stands for the introduction of differentiated taxation, meaning that higher taxes would have to be paid on higher wages and pensions. The party would implement a unified, 5 percent Value Added Tax on both food and tourism services as well; and it supports wage reform, more precisely, the EU minimum wage framework, which is still in the works at this time.
Pro Romania is currently represented in the Romanian Parliament by 20 members in the Chamber of Deputies and one Senator, and it has two MEPs in the European Parliament.
The administrative reorganization of Romania was also a political ambition of former President Traian Băsescu (2004–2014), who claimed that counties were two small to serve as administrative units and planned to create eight mega-regions. The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, otherwise known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ, refused this plan, as Băsescu’s proposed changes in administrative boundaries would have radically altered the ratio of the Hungarian population – in a way that was certainly not favorable to the Hungarian communities that lived (and still live) in a majority of Szekler counties.
Several years ago, RMDSZ itself submitted its own project for regional reorganization to Parliament, proposing the creation of 16 regions of economic development and five macro-regions. This would have meant that the three counties of the so-called Szeklerland (Hargita/Harghita, Kovászna/Covasna and Maros/Mureş) would have formed one of these macro-regions, while another would have been comprised of the other Transylvanian counties in which the rest of the Hungarian community lived: Beszterce-Naszód/Bistriţa-Năsăud, Máramaros/Maramureş, Szatmár/Satu Mare, Bihar/Bihor, Szilágy/Sălaj and Kolozs/Cluj.
Title image: Victor Ponta proposes 15 counties instead of 41 and at most 1,500 administrative units