Many people are surprised about Romania, about it being a country of paradoxes. Romania has one of the fastest broadband connections in the world on the one hand, and roads full of old-fashioned carts on the other, and not only in the villages. The reason for the quality of broadband is to take a leap; to adapt to a trend: taking a modern digital infrastructure, while others stick to outdated technology. That requires courage and vision, and an investment in the future.
All it takes for a modern democracy is courage and vision for elections in Romania. There are problems, such as those relating to restrictions, i.e. the situation is very difficult as regards to independent access to the enrolment (at all levels: local, national and European): there is a large number of signatures required. These restrictions are manifested in the difficulty of creating better competitions, and high election threshold for parties and alliances. But beyond this, a fundamental blockage is the power to choose who you prefer from a list.
What happens, for example, if you do not like the candidate MEPs on the positions 1-5 in a party list, and you want to vote for the candidate on position 7, because you know that in theory the party will get only 4 seats, meaning that candidate #7 would not be "eligible" without any preferential votes? You're confused and might not even vote, as the 4 "eligible" places are already chosen by party calculations, whether they would get any preferential votes or not. Democracy thus suffers. It has everything to gain if the Romanians could elect 32 MEPs from "open" lists, giving those who have struggled the most to gain the people’s confidence a chance.
There will be no preferential voting at the European Parliament elections in Romania, and it is only a national constituency. So, if you really want to give power to voters, to motivate people to come to vote, and to motivate candidates to campaign strongly, we need to change the current system. For May 25, 2014, the exercise is too late, but the discussion has a place, especially since the Romanian society is becoming more and more ready for change. In addition, in Europe, there is increasing talks about moving towards a uniform system of European Parliament elections.
The question is which model to adopt? In my opinion, for the reasons above, Romania would have to turn to the model promoted in Belgium and the Netherlands. There voters have the possibility to give a preferential vote for candidates on the list. The campaigns are more dynamic, full of ideas and energy for the party's decision meets individual ambitions. This path would be optimal for people so passionate about politics as the Romanians. Modern democracy is tugging at the European elections in Romania, and it depends on us if we have the wisdom to respond, and show her the Romanian hospitality.
Dan LUCA / Brussels
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