Thursday, May 31, 2007

Getting rid of Romania's government?

NOTE: The story below is from a personal blog and not from a media outfit. Although we do not publish stories from other blogs, this is an exception as it is an insightful analysis of the Romanian political situation.

Frank's RamPage blog by Frank Sellin.

Romania's Democratic Party (PD) claims it has the 116 signatures of parliamentarians necessary to submit a motion of censure against the minority government of Călin Popescu Tăriceanu (PNL).

That's mildly impressive, given that PD only has 74 members across both the House of Deputies and the Senate.

Submitting such a motion is one thing, but getting a majority of both houses to vote for it is probably an insurmountable hurdle, considering 322 parliamentarians (out of 469) voted for President Traian Băsescu's suspension from office, and considering that no rebels in PSD have yet succeeded in obtaining the resignations of Geoana, Iliescu, or Hrebenciuc, let alone leadership of the party.

Given the continuing embarrassing and adolescent behavior of many parliamentarians (and keeping in mind that PRM had boycotted the session) during Băsescu's presidential address to Parliament, it is highly unlikely that such a motion of censure, or Băsescu's call for the government's resignation, will succeed in dethroning the government, let alone trigger early elections for failure to form another government.

Interestingly, at least part of the PSD's benches, including Geoana, kept quiet and reasonably respectful during the president's address. And, these same parliamentarians did manage to vote 240-20 to pursue another referendum, this time on changing the electoral system from proportional representation to a "uninominal" vote. (The 20 votes against largely belonged to the Hungarian party, or UDMR, which depends as an existential matter on closed list proportional representation.)

However, the censure motion will, as PD president Emil Boc suggested, clarify exactly what the basis of support for the PNL-UDMR government is. Individual parliamentarians and party leaderships will have to decide how closely they want to be seen as tied to a government whose prime minister assumed a vague responsibility for the failure of the May 19 suspension referendum (though without specifying any tangible consequences), or as contributing to the lingering political crisis. PSD in particular will have to resolve its internal party debate about choosing between PD and PNL as potential governing partners. That's Romanian chess for you!

Romania always harbors some potential for vertiginous surprises, but the bottom line is that -- barring a sudden capitulation by the present group of MPs in favor of early elections, or a party-line desertion of the present government by the entire PSD -- institutional and constitutional dysfunction in Romania has no clear exit before 2008.

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