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The PSD government is hanging by 11 MPs. This notwithstanding, a dismissal…

The PSD government is hanging by 11 MPs. This notwithstanding, a dismissal is unlikely

The PSD-ALDE coalition lost its majority in the Chamber of Deputies, keeping a total of 244 MPs, only 11 more than the number needed for « anointing » a government. However, if one takes into account the dry calculations of parliamentary mathematics, the removal of the Social Democrats from the government through the motion of no-confidence announced by the PNL-USR opposition is unlikely to occur.

The power play is more complex and its equation involves a series of essential variables:

  • Firstly, the dismissal of a government is different from its investiture: it is not enough for parties in the coalition to remain without the majority, but the authors of the motion of no-confidence must tally the votes „against” on their side (at least 233);
  • UDMR’s co-optation in the anti-PSD camp is difficult and involves negotiations on the perennial party dossiers, led by Kelemen Hunor (increased rights for the Hungarian community);
  • Tariceanu’s intention, if it ever existed, of breaking the alliance with PSD has evaporated as soon as the NAD put in a request for his immunity to be waived, while the Social Democrats still have the absolute majority in the Senate;
  • The Liberals’ lack of real appetite to remove PSD from the government for the following reasons: they are not ready to take over power and will not repeat the 2016 scenario when they had to pay for PSD’s obstruction of the Ciolos Government. In addition, the Liberals and USR do not have a great relationship, without which a majority is not possible.

Parliamentary Mathematics

PNL and USR have 133 MPs at the moment, which means they still have to tally at least 100 votes in order to reach the required majority of 233 for the dismissal of the Government.

They can rely, at least on the discursive level, on PMP-12 votes in the Chamber of Deputies and 5 in the Senate (where PMP no longer has a parliamentary group following PSD and ALDE recruitment operations).

We could also assume that the 21 non-aligned MPs, mostly affiliated with Victor Ponta’s party, and the rest of 3 senators without a group (a former liberal and two former Social Democrats) could vote for the no-confidence motion.

A further 41 votes would be added to the 133 votes on which PNL and USR count. However, to reach th necessary number, there are still 59 MPs who can only come from UDMR, other minorities, ALDE, or PSD.

Normally, minority deputies (17 in number) do not vote for the dismissal of a government. There may be exceptions, but the amount is negligible.

UDMR controls the majority in the Chamber, why would it renounce this privilege?

With the PSD-ALDE coalition’s loss of the parliamentary majority in the Chamber of Deputies – the most important forum of the Romanian Parliament -, UDMR found itself in the kingmaker’s position. No organic law can be adopted in the House without the Hungarians’ votes, because the Social Democrats and ALDE have only 163 deputies and the majority needed is 165.

If until now UDMR has avoided supporting all the opposition’s initiatives to dismiss the Government, now Kelemen Hunor’s party has even less reason to rebel. It is expected that the the parliamentary agenda would feature again the Hungarians’ old projects concerning Szekler Land autonomy, or the granting of additional rights and privileges to this community’s members. In fact, yesterday, a legislative initiative was launched through which the UDMR wants the establishment of development regions that can gain special autonomy.

In addition, UDMR has become quite dependent on Budapest Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. Over the past two years, the latter has pumped tens of millions of euros in the Harcov area, a gesture made with Liviu Dragnea’s approval, whose overthrow would not suit Orban.

Tariceanu’s change of mind, unlikely because of the new criminal record

The criminal bribery file opened by NAD under the name of Călin Popescu Tăriceanu has paralyzed any possible lateral step that the leader of the ALDE could theoretically take in order to leave Liviu Dragnea in offside.

PSD has the absolute majority in the Senate, where it has exactly 69 members, a half plus one of the total. Tariceanu’s freedom may depend on the Social Democrats’ votes, which makes an ALDE desertion at this time unlikely.

Moreover, with the appearance of the criminal case, the brakes that Tariceanu has put on Dragnea during the last few months concerning the adoption of the emergency decree on amnesty and pardon could also be de-activated. It is all about timing: the plan is for the Emergency Decree to be adopted before Christmas, the PSD has already postponed twice a vote on ALDE leader’s immunity. A new brake on Tăriceanu’s side could mean a vote in the Senate for waiving his immunity. Moreover, the adoption of the Emergency Decree would also relieve him of bribery accusations brought by prosecutors. A win-win game, for Calin Popescu Tariceanu vs. a good image for a possible presidential candidacy packaged along a very likely prison sentence.

Do the Liberals really want the dismissal of the Government?

PNL will most likely submit the no-confidence motion, but it will do so with the same lack of enthusiasm as before. Although the liberal leaders do not believe in the chances of dismissing the Dăncilă Cabinet, they will still submit the motion in order to mark the moment.

Besides, there is currently no well set up, articulated, scenario in the PNL, for taking over the government. Liberals do not even take this into account. Their rhetoric is about triggering early elections, something that has proved impossible in the post-December 1989 period.

PNL’s lack of appetite for taking over the government is not to be condemned after the 2016 technocrat government’s experience. The PSD then received the necessary oxygen to regroup and win the parliamentary elections with a record score. Instead, the PNL acounted for all the failures of the technocratic government, the party then headed by Alina Gorghiu being perceived at the time as being in power, although it was far from it, which led to an almost unprecedentedly low electoral score in 2016 .

PNL’s apathy regarding the assumption of government is accompanied by President Klaus Iohannis’ electoral interest. Already in the race to renew his mandate, Iohannis needs a boxing bag, not a millstone hung around his neck. The PNL power takeover would take Klaus Iohannis out of the trenches and push him into the line of fire, which would disturb his electoral interests.

Another hypothetical group on which the opposition could have counted, at least theoretically, was that of the PSD’s Putschists, signatories to the anti-Dragnea letter. However, once the heads of the revolt – Paul Stănescu, Gabriela Firea, Adrian Ţuţuianu and Marian Neacşu – were annihilated, the group dissolved and no longer poses a danger to Liviu Dragnea. It is unlikely, however, that anyone would expect the Putschists to vote for a no-confidence motion: the PSD members also have principles, and one of them is never to vote against the party at crucial times, regardless of personal grievances.

Traducerea: Ruxandra Stoicescu

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