Governing parties in Romania intend to rise the parliamentary threshold to 7%, in order to shut out UDMR from the Parliament
In a shocking new turn of events, after UDMR has been pushed out of the governance this year, in spite of a previous accord, the two governing Romanian parties PSD and PNL have introduced a draft bill into the Romanian Chamber of Deputies that aims to raise the electoral threshold to 7%, with the clear aim to eliminate UDMR, the political representation of Hungarians from Romania in the Romanian Parliament. They also aim to eliminate local thresholds, according to which if a party wins 20% in four counties, then it can have access to parliamentary seat, a compromise that UDMR has obtained in previous years.
This would create really big problems for UDMR, that usually receives around 6% of the votes, and it would prevent the Hungarian community to send its political representatives into the Romanian legislative. PSD and PLN says they “want to create more stability in Romania, to reduce the fragmentation of the political spectrum”, however if this bill gets voted in the Parliament, then it means the elimination of UDMR from the Romanian political sphere.
One year before the elections, the members of the Hungarian community consider this move an extremely hostile one, and it prevents the members of the Hungarian community to be part of the Romanian legislative, as well as it prevents UDMR to be part of the Romanian government in the future.
A well-known political scientist, Christian Parvulescu has declared in relation to these plans, that “countries that want to build a democracy, do not raise, bot lower the threshold”. He also said that the 5% threshold is already a high one, which has an impact on the democratic representation in Romania. A 7% threshold is huge. This will act against the smaller parties in Romania. It will not affect AUR in any way, but it can affect under some conditions USR and REPER. UDMR will be affected by it in equal measure. If this is aimed at eliminating UDMR then its even worse, because eliminating he representation of UDMR will complicate a lot the ethnic equation. A proposal if this kind is not democratic, it orients us toward Turkey, not the Netherlands.
It is a well-known fact that in the last 30 years UDMR has been sending its representatives into the Romanian Chamber of Deputies and Senate, its members usually comprising 30 parliamentarians, representing 1 million people. UDMR has been contributing to good governance and good public policies, both in the Romanian Parliament and in the governments UDMR participated in. UDMR’s presence in the Romanian political spectrum has been always a guarantee of inter-ethnic peace and balance between the Romanian and Hungarian communities. In the event of this law being passed in the Romanian Parliament it will cause turmoil and unrest among the Hungarian population of Romania that fears that in lack of representation in the Romanian legislative, laws that curb the community’s cultural and linguistic rights as well as passing discriminatory legislation towards the community will be possible.
The electoral thresholds applied in the 2019 European elections ranged between 5 % of the valid votes cast, required in nine Member States (Czechia, France, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) and 1.8 %, required in Cyprus, while 14 Member States set no threshold. Italy, Austria and Sweden applied a 4 % threshold; and Greece 3 %. At the time of writing, it appears that these thresholds will still be applicable for the 2024 European elections. So this shows as well, that the 7% threshold Romania wants to introduce is huge, and it will impact vey negatively on the quality of democracy in Romania, the draft itself having the very purpose of eliminating Hungarian political representation in Romania.