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Romania Parliamentary elections. The stake of PM Ponta's offer for Hungarian Democrats to support USL in Parliament, Government after Sunday poll

de Dan Tapalaga, adapt. V.O.
Luni, 10 decembrie 2012, 15:24 English | Top News

Negotiations between the Romanian PM Victor Ponta's Social Democratic Party (PSD), a member of the Social Liberal Union (USL) along the National Liberal Party (PNL), and the Hungarian Democrats (UDMR) for a possible collaboration in the Parliament and the Government had started before the December 9 general elections and are aimed mainly at strengthening the PSD position before PNL within the USL alliance, according to sources. PM Ponta announced on Sunday night that he talked with UDMR over such a possibility. According to sources, the talks took place between Ponta and UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor, who may receive the seat of Culture minister.

"This keeps Liberals at bay, limiting their option to blackmail PSD within the government", the sources said.

Ponta's statements on Sunday night regarding talks with UDMR took PNL by surprise.

What would UDMR - which according to partial results barely overcomes the 5% threshold to enter Parliament - succeed with such a move?

UDMR may receive a ministry at most, but the current score obtained by USL in the elections (almost 60%) may prove that bringing UDMR into the government would be futile and it may only be useful to negotiate the support for a constitutional majority in the parliament.

Considering that one of the fiercest reactions to the announcement came from Culture minister Puiu Hasotti, it may be possible that the talks aimed at passing this ministry to the UDMR. UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor had served as Culture minister in the past.

Liberals say they are strongly against bringing UDMR in the government, but they cannot avoid talks with ethnic Hungarian union leaders for securing a constitutional majority. In any case, Victor Ponta's introducing UDMR to the talks brings down the Liberals' ability to negotiate with the PSD.

Signals and reactions on Sunday night show that PNL was not aware of the PSD-UDMR talks. Both PSD and UDMR seem to gain from such a move. PSD sends an important signal showing he was ready to make concessions for the Hungarian minority, while UDMR, which received its weakest electoral score ever, shows it retains political leverage to promote the interests of the community.

Last but not least, USL would need the ethnic Hungarian support in case new moves to impeach President Traian Basescu are launched. In the referendum to dismiss Basescu this summer, UDMR was neutral, but the Hungarian community was notably absent from the vote in massive numbers.

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