Combining the European parliamentary elections with the local elections does not run into any obstacles at the European level, being even encouraged the decisions regarding the increase of attendance at the polls. At the Coalition level, there could be a clear decision on Thursday.
PSD and PNL must decide quickly whether or not they want to merge FOTO Inquam Photos
The hot topic of merging European parliamentary elections with local ones is also of interest at the European level, given that several states stick to voting for the European Parliament (EP) and various other types of elections. And at the level of the Coalition, which in Romania has a clear majority to prepare the ground, it seems that the planets are aligning for a favorable decision.
“The practice of collating elections is a common practice in EU member states. On June 9, when the European Parliament elections will take place, local elections will take place in a number of EU member states. Local elections will be held in some German states, some Italian regions, local elections will be held in Ireland, Malta and Hungary. And regional and federal elections in Belgium. So, merging elections is not something seen negatively at the European level“, explained Siegfried Mureșan, PNL MEP and vice-president of the EPP, in a discussion with Romanian journalists. The representative of the liberals emphasized that there is encouragement from the European Parliament regarding measures to increase voter turnout. “The European Parliament makes significant efforts to increase the participation rate in the European Parliament, and the merger is a good thing in this sense. A decision to change the electoral legislation shortly before the elections would obviously have been seen with critical eyes by the competent institutions, but this is not the case. The only thing that happens is that the election date is restored“, added Siegfried Muresan.
Buda: There is no legal impediment
“From a legal point of view, there is no impediment that these elections cannot be merged. To be very clear. Anyway, we have to go to the Administrative Code. Moreover, in Romania there were elections and a referendum at the same time. The decision is eminently political“, stated Daniel Buda, for “Adevărul”, explaining that in 2009 there was a referendum together with the European parliamentarians, to reduce the number of parliamentarians to 300, and in 2019 – the referendum on Justice. The MEP emphasized that the decision must also be taken in the next two weeks, because otherwise there will be problems regarding compliance with the legal deadlines. For example, according to “Adevărul” calculations, the final government decision for the organization of elections on June 9, together with the European Parliament elections, must be given by March 25 at the latest, but until then the final changes to the Administrative Code must be made.
And PSD MEP Victor Negrescu came up with favorable arguments for merging a row of elections, as is the case for MEPs with local ones. “As a rule, local elections increase turnout. The participation in voting for the European Parliament will also automatically increase. What is important for us is to have a specific campaign for the EP, to explain what is at stake in the European elections and what is the impact on citizens”said Victor Negrescu, when asked by “Adevărul” newspaper.
Test also for the extremists in Romania
The social democrat also stated that there are no problems regarding how the subject is perceived in Brussels and Strasbourg. “From a European perspective there is no problem with this merger, as long as there is a campaign for the EP, which is different from the one for the local“, emphasized Negrescu. Asked if a merger would not disadvantage certain parties, without local representation, the MEP pointed out that the approach is a positive one, not a negative one: “I believe that such a decision must be taken in a positive key: why do we take it? If we want to merge them, we must explain to the Romanians why we are doing it. And the only logical explanation is to say that by merging we make expenses more efficient and increase voting participation, practically increasing the representativeness of the elected. Democratic legitimacy. And I think that the extremists in Romania are not, in my opinion, the best representatives that our country can have. If we have a higher turnout, I think we will find out that, in fact, despite the opinion polls, they are not representative of Romanians“.
According to “Adevărul” information from the Coalition, the subject would be settled this Thursday, when all the scenarios will be put on the table, i.e. the merger options, but also the opening of negotiations for an agreement on the top positions in the coming years, but where the discussions they are even more complicated, because none of the parties wants to give in in favor of the candidacy for the present with a common project and person.
Romanians, divided on the issue of organizing elections together
The latest survey by INSCOP, commissioned by the News press agency, shows that 49.4% of those surveyed would prefer that the elections be “organized separately, not to interfere with each other”, while 46.6% are of the opinion that some should be organized simultaneously, and 4% refused to answer or had no opinion. “The presidential elections are seen by the population as the most important of the four polls that will be held in 2024, which is why the presidential competition will strongly influence the electoral dynamics for the other polls“, explains Remus Ștefureac, director of INSCOP. In fact, ask what are, for them, the most important elections that will be organized in 2024, 42.3% of the respondents indicate the presidential elections, 20.4% – the local elections, 18.1% – the parliamentary elections, and 4, 7% – the elections for the European Parliament. 11.9% say that all are equally important, 1.8% – that none is important, and 0.8% do not know or do not answer. The interest in the presidential elections is also revealed by the high turnout throughout the more than three decades of the post-December regime.