Romanian Civil Society Asks for a More Open National Political Landscape

Monday - 13 October 2014
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Demand to presidential candidates: eliminate barriers to enter politics!

“Politics without barriers” is an NGO initiated campaign asking the 14 presidential candidates to state their position on freedom of assembly and the right to political participation. This campaign seeks an amendment to the country’s legislation on political parties, which is one of the most restrictive laws in the EU.

Demands:

1. Do you support political parties to be formed by a minimum of three persons, without any territorial limitation?

Yes or No

2. Do you support introducing a requirement to bring a reasonable number of signatures when running in any kind of election, on a party list or as an independent?

Yes or No

3. Do you support the abolition of the rule that grants political parties priority in obtaining headquarters from local authorities?

Yes or No

4. Do you support setting up similar rules for candidates running as independents and those running on behalf of a party, for any kind of election, including those for local and regional seats?

Yes or No

5. Do you support the elimination of the financial deposit required to validate parliamentary candidates?

Yes or No

6. Do you support the financing of all political parties from the state budget, proportionate to the number of votes received, irrespective of whether or not they made it into Parliament?

Yes or No

7. Do you support the abolishment of the rule that forbids citizens to sign in support of more than one candidate or party?

Yes or No

Our proposal comes in response to growing concerns in relation to the quality of the democratic process in Romania. We see very low trust in political democratic institutions, especially in parties, both at the Parliament level and the presidency. Simultaneously, there is a decrease in the political involvement of citizens: decreasing voter turnout rates, reluctance to join a political party, a general lack of interest in participating in decision-making, stigmatizing everything related to politics. All of these contribute to the weakening of democracy and can have serious negative consequences in the long run. It is important to act now, before things get any worse.

One of the main reasons behind these negative outcomes is the way political party participation is governed and, in fact, discouraged. The laws on elections and political parties set up administrative barriers to political participation. This is more visible in local politics, as Romania is undergoing gradual decentralization. The current situation cannot be overcome without clear action from politicians and civil society.

The NGOs that signed this petition and are part of the “Politics without barriers” campaign consider the amendment of legislation to be vital to ensuring that both freedom of assembly and the right to political participation are guaranteed.

Our proposals have two main objectives. The first is to eliminate the administrative barriers for setting up a political party, while requiring parties that enroll in elections to bring a certain number of supporting signatures. The second objective is to ensure equal opportunities for big and small parties, for new parties and for independent candidates.

Once adopted, our proposals would revitalize the political competition, leading to more public interest for politics and to a better representation of the various societal interests.

The signatory NGOs have supported and will continue to support the involvement of citizens in politics, as candidates or as voters. Unfortunately, current legislation does not only limit political participation of citizens, through the most drastic conditions found in the EU, but it also hinders civil society from fulfilling its role.

We hope that you will present a public statement during the political campaign and that you will assume, together with the party or your group of supporters, the implementation of this reform, which is indispensable to the democratic revitalization of Romania.

Taking into consideration that during the presidential campaign, the candidates have to take on some of the issues and questions coming from society, the signatory NGOs will inform their members, supporters and beneficiaries, as well as the wider public, on the answers received – or, when relevant, the lack of answers from the presidential candidates.

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The NGOs who are part of the “Politics without barriers” campaign share similar values, such as: respect for human rights, nondiscrimination, equality and the fight for democracy and the rule of law in Romania.

More on the campaign’s website.