The idea of merging the European Parliament election with the local ones is one that can bring a higher turnout, National Liberal Party (PNL) leader Nicolae Ciuca told private broadcaster Prima TV on Saturday when asked whether he supports this merger.
„We support any decision, any solution that will facilitate the fact that we have a year as complicated as possible with four, we can even say five rounds of elections. And then, if we take a look, from June to December, we will all be busy and concerned about what will happen on the political scene. Because it’s a battle where the winner takes all and the others have to start from the beginning, which is very fair. And then I don’t think we can afford in the current context to sacrifice half a year just for such a plan that runs for six months,” said Nicolae Ciuca.
He specified that the option of merging the elections must be constitutionally backed.
„And if there is a constitutional, legal possibility to buttress democracy, because after all, what are we interested in? We want as many people as possible to come to the elections, so that we can legitimize those who are elected. And I don’t think that the citizens – the Romanians – will be so willing to participate in five rounds of elections with the same enthusiasm, wanting to show their right to vote. As such, the idea of merger is an idea that can bring us a higher turnout,” said Ciuca.
He also questioned the impact on the education process should the elections not be merged, given that polling stations are set up in schools.
„Also, we all know that polling stations are organized, where else but in schools. And then there will be an impediment to the normal running of the school year, whether we are talking about the end of the 2023-2024 school year or the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year, and if I am not mistaken, there are almost 10 weeks that could be affected by the electoral process. As such, I think a solution in this regard is welcome,” explained Nicolae Ciuca.
The PNL leader said that the regulatory decisions on a merger of elections would be the Government’s responsibility, if the main elements of the legislative framework on the conduct of elections are not disrupted.
He was also asked about the status of the discussions held within the coalition with Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Marcel Ciolacu on the subject of merger.
„We have discussed and agreed that each of us will go to the party’s governing bodies, get a mandate to discuss this form of merger and then come back to the governing body, namely the National Political Bureau, consult the party leaders and then present our decision,” Ciuca said.
He also spoke about the opposition’s accusations that the merger is not a democratic decision, when asked if the recommendations of the European Commission and the Venice Commission will be taken into account.
„If we look at the history of the European Parliament election, it is not the first time that the European Parliament election has been held alongside local elections. They have been held in other European countries, and we already know that decisions have already been made in four countries – Germany, Italy, Belgium and Ireland. And there are three or four other countries that are also thinking of carrying out this merger. Hence it is not a practice that Romania imposes. It has been used, it is being used,” said Ciuca.