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Ruling coalition sets date for key elections in Romania

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The much contended issue, after weeks of political bickering between Romania’s two ruling parties came to a conclusion on Thursday, July 4th. The liberals and social democrats agreed to hold the first round of the presidential election on November 24th, with the second round to follow on December 8th.

After weeks of debate and months of uncertainty regarding the election calendar, the new dates mark a return to the original electoral calendar after the ruling coalition decided in spring to move the presidential elections to September. Initially the Chamber of Deputies passed a bill to bring forward the election date to September. But the two ruling coalition parties couldn’t see eye to eye on pushing forward the elections calendar. 

The social-democrat PM, Marcel Ciolacu said that they had an understanding within the coalition about pushing back the calendar and having the elections held in September. “They are now trying to change the rules of the game, they are not keeping their promise”, he said. 

On the other hand the liberals maintained that elections should be held at the expected date, close to the end of the year. Rareş Bogdan, vice-president of the ruling National Liberal Party (PNL) said that “we liberals remain consistent, we believe that the elections must respect the calendar precisely so that there is enough time to have a proper presidential debate and for the presidential candidates to present their projects. There needs to be enough time for voters to make up their mind.”

There were also rumors that the social-democrats and liberals would back the same candidate for the presidential election. That has been dismissed by the PNL party president. “Each party will have its own candidate”, said Nicolae Ciucă.

So far, only George Simion of righ-wing nationalist AUR party, MEP Diana Șoșoacă, leader of an extremist pro-Russian party, and Elena Lasconi, the new leader of USR (Renew), have announced their candidacies for the presidency. A recent poll places current NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoanăas as the frontrunner in the upcoming elections, but he has yet to announce his candidacy.

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The presidential contest to replace incumbent Klaus Iohannis is done via a two-round voting system for a five-year term. Candidates obtaining a majority of 50%+1 of all registered voters in the first round are declared the winner. If none of the candidates achieve this, then a run-off is held between the two contenders with the top scores in the first round. The candidate who obtains any majority of votes in the run-off is declared the winner. The term of the president is five years. 

Between the two rounds of the presidential election the parliamentary election will also be held taking place on Romania’s National Day on 1 December. The electoral system used for the parliamentary elections entails that the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate are elected in constituencies, on the basis of a list system and independent candidatures, according to the principle of closed party list proportional representation. 

The two Chambers have different numbers of members: the Chamber of Deputies is composed of 330 Deputies, and the Senate of 136 Senators. Thus, for the election of the Chamber of Deputies the representation norm is of one Deputy to 73,000 inhabitants, and for the election of the Senate, of one Senator to 168,000 inhabitants. The number of Deputies and Senators to be elected in each constituency is determined on the basis of the representation norm, by relating the number of inhabitants in each constituency to the representation norm.

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