Winning Coalition Aims to Rule Romania Alone

After winning almost two-thirds of the number of votes, the centre-left coalition led by Victor Ponta is in a strong position to govern unaided.Romania’s victorious centre-left Social-Democrat Union, USL, is waiting the official results of Sunday’s parliamentary elections to see whether it will have enough seats to create a government without forming a broader coalition.

After counting over 95 per cent of the votes, the alliance led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta won around 60 per cent of the seats.

But the electoral system, which tends to favour larger parties, could give the USL an even bigger proportion of seats in parliament.

“We hope to get two-thirds of seats and rule without help from any other party. We… hope to have enough seats to rule by ourselves,” said Crin Antonescu, leader of Liberal Party, PNL, one of the parties in the USL.

The PNL is a member of the coalition alongside the leftist Social-Democrat Party, PSD, and the Conservative Party, PC.

Ponta on Sunday said that the USL was most likely to enter into a coalition with the party of ethnic Hungarians in Romania, UDMR, in order to have a comfortable majority.

With two-thirds of the seats, the USL could then change the constitution, as Viktor Orban has done in neighbouring Hungary.

The future opposition will be weak and divided in the next parliament. The Alliance for the Romanian Right, ARD, a grouping of centre-right parties, dominated by the opposition Democratic Liberals and aligned with President Traian Basescu, got only around 18 per cent of the votes.

The Democratic Liberals – deeply unpopular for enforcing tough austerity measures in the past – lost around 15 per cent of votes, compared to the last elections.

Media reports on Monday claimed that the ARD may be on brink of dissolving, as the leaders of the alliance are unhappy with the set-up.

A new force in parliament is the People’s Party, PP, a populist party that advocates big tax cuts and higher wages and pensions. It came third in the elections with around 13 per cent.

The PP is run by journalist-turned businessman Dan Diaconescu who is under investigation for allegedly breaking the law in relation to his a bid for a chemical company, Oltchim, which was subsequently thrown out by privatisation officials.

The main party of the ethnic Hungarians, the UDMR, will enter parliament with around 5 per cent of the votes. It has been a junior partner in different ruling coalitions several times in the last 20 years.

Future MPs will not only face political challenges, but also some obstacles related to their working space.

The plenum hall of the parliament has only 501 seats, while the number of Deputies and Senators numbers 550 in total. This has been caused by an increase in the number of MPs, 80 more than the previous parliament.

“Those who cannot find seats on the ground floor can sit in the balconies,” Liviu Dragnea, USL secretary general, pointed out.

But analysts say that the problem may not be that serious, as MPs are often absent even during important votes.

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