The parliamentary elections that will take place in Romania on December 5 and 6 are important as they are a democratic exercise that refers directly to a lot of people in the Republic of Moldova who expectedly number hundreds of thousands or people or even a million. On the other hand, the elections over the Prut are important because they represent another model of a democratic exercise compared with the one witnessed at the presidential elections in Moldova last month. The experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Parliamentary elections in Romania: what Moldovans with Romanian nationality know about them and what they vote?” discussed what the citizens can learn from the upcoming legislative elections.
According to the standing expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan, the elections in Romania are the most important political event that happens once in four years. The sovereign people choose their representatives in Romania’s bicameral Parliament. They will elect 329 MPs on the Chamber of Deputies and 136 senators on the Senate. Romania has a semi-presidential system of government, as it was in the Republic of Moldova until 2000. But Parliament is anyway the most important institution of the state. Comparatively, the Republic of Moldova is a state with a parliamentary regime. The elections in Moldova and Romania are based on different electoral systems. In Romania, it is applied the limited proportional representation system. Each county has an electoral constituency with a number of seats. That’s why 42 constituencies are established in Romania to elect 308 MPs out of 329: 41 are the counties of Romania and the municipality of Bucharest, 4 MPs are elected in the constituency intended for the diaspora and 17 MPs represent the national minorities.
The nationwide electoral threshold for the legislative elections in Romania is 5%, but the political parties that in four counties gain 20% of the vote can be represented in Parliament. This is probably a special clause referring to the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR). If alliances are formed, the ceiling rises by 3% for two political parties and by 1% consecutively for each party that joins the bloc of two parties. Independent candidates can also run in the elections, but they need to collect signatures representing at least 1% of the voters in the given constituency to be able to run.
Political analyst Anatol Țăranu said the political arena in Romania is dominated by two ideological parties – the Social Democratic Party that derives from the old communist strata and the National Liberal Party that is above the PSD in polls and represents the political right. Alongside these two parties that are the favorites in the current campaign in Romania, there is one new party that appeared recently on the political arena – USR Plus, which actually enjoys almost half of the electoral weight of the big Romanian political players. Two parties have not very big chances of entering Parliament according to the last polls: Pro Romania that recently merged with ALDE and the party whose informal leader is ex-President Traian Băsescu.
“The rest are parties with minimal chances of entering Parliament and one of these is a non-system party that pleads for Romanian nationalism – Alliance for the Unity of Romanians (AUR), which speaks in defining terms, including about the necessity of the union of Bessarabia and Romania,” he stated.
“UDMR traditionally enters Parliament. In Romania, there are 18 officially recognized national minorities, 17 of which can delegate candidates to Parliament. UDMR runs as a party, but enjoys derogation from the general law that it uses to reach Parliament. The other parties practically do not have chances of entering Parliament.”
According to political analyst Nicolae Negru, partnerships between the parties of Moldova and Romania have been established since the Moldovan citizens with Romanian nationality started to take part in the elections in Romania. Logically, this unity or partnership appears also on the initiative of the pan-European parties, for example, the European People’s Party (EPP). In Moldova, the PLDM was a member of the EPP and now the PAS and the PPPDA are members of this party. There were cases when the parties in Europe recommended the voters and political leaders in Moldova who to vote for in elections in Romania, but the parties here not always took these recommendations into account and the example of ex-Premier Iurie Leancă is a relevant one.
Nicolae Negru noted that these partnerships have a particular effect. When a party that is in power in Moldova recommends its voters and sympathizers who to vote for, it anyway matters. The voters in Moldova have a particularity. They vote for a Romanian party of the left with big reservations.
The public debate “Parliamentary elections in Romania: what Moldovans with Romanian nationality know about them and what they vote?” was the 160th installment of the series “Developing political culture through public debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.