Regionalization – more important than decentralization, which I mentioned in earlier posts - needs the endorsement of a new Romanian constitution. In the current situation a constitutional referendum would likely overlap with the European elections.
If we look at the context, we know that the USL has received a substantial mandate for constitutional leadership of the country. If they fail to pass a new constitution, based on developing the aforementioned regionalization, and thus fail to change the activities of key institutions in order for the Romanian state to function better, then the political majority has not used the potential they have in their hands. Therefore, the USL needs to put the constitution on the agenda, so people will need to vote for approval or not. By putting the referendum high on the agenda, it can do an important thing: save budget by combining voting on the referendum with voting for the European Parliament elections.
In terms of timing, it's no secret that the European elections, theoretically and practically, have their own importance (as the EP co-legislates 75% of the applicable law in Romania). They are seen to the parties more as a political test before the Romanian presidential elections (planned for November 2014), a test which will show the governments popularity. The USL will further detail this test by providing separate lists for PSD and PNL.
One effect of the referendum would be a larger voter turn-up for European Parliament elections, which generally enjoys little interest of the Romanian majority (27% participation rate in 2009). Even though the parties will mobilize strongly, it remains to be seen whether USL will be able to gather enough votes to successfully pass the referendum (50% +1).
While at EU level, people are discussing more about the future of the European institutions, in Romania we are debating on regionalization of the country. It is important to synchronize the plans for regionalization of Romania to the European institutional reform. We must not forget the European, and even global trends. In the EU, the tendency is to emphasize the principle of subsidiarity and federation. The German model therefore tends go hand in hand with the idea of regionalization. Successfully implementing regionalization will improve our relationship implicitly with the power pole of Europe: Brussels.
Overlapping themes is not a good thing in general, but this time it can be. The challenge can be a successful, as it creates a palpable association in the minds of many people with what’s at stake in the European elections. In this context, national themes which generally pollute European issues, also in other member states, could be "turned" into true European topics of strategic interest for Romania.
Dan LUCA / Brussels