“People do not matter. The party is all powerful, because we have lists.”
This is not from 1995, it is from a Romanian political party leader in 2015. You won’t see his name in the media, but he hides on a party list, gets rich from state contracts, and laughs about democracy.
Closed party lists are the voting method for every level of government in Romania – from city council to parliament. They are like a virulent Communist virus causing the hopes of Romanians to live on life support.
Here is how the system works. If a county is allocated 18 seats in Parliament, each political party puts together a list of 18 candidates ranked 1 to 18. Citizens are given a single vote to choose a party. If party A gets 50% of the votes, candidates 1 to 9 on their list are elected to represent the citizens in Parliament. When you combine this voting method with limitations on forming new political parties, you have destroyed the foundation of democracy. People cannot elect a fellow citizen from their community to write the laws on their behalf.
Closed party lists are the tools for politicians to pass laws that 90% of Romanians hate – like cutting out the heart of nations identity – the world most beautiful forested mountains.
Closed party lists are about two things – control and corruption. Just a few national party leaders can effectively choose every candidate on the ballot – assuring the ability to pass any laws they want.
Many of the candidates on party lists do nothing other than vote yes to what they are told and collect small commissions for facilitating high-level corruption schemes.
In the 1990’s, Russia embarked on a democratic election method very similar to Germany, with 225 of 450 Duma seats elected through direct elections. By 2004, Russians hoping for better lives, elected over 100 independent candidates from their local communities to the Duma. For the first time in Russian history, Czar, Communist Premier, or Dictators could not pass laws without the citizen’s approval.
In 2007, Putin eliminated the direct elections and returned to closed party lists, and democracy died.
In May 2015 the Romanian Parliament did the same thing. President Iohannis supported it. The rationale is that national party leaders can choose better representatives than the people. Unfortunately, the education system, bureaucracy, roads, healthcare and forests tell a different story.
There is no accountability in closed party list systems. Even when nothing gets done, the politicians never change. And Romanians remain hopeless while their children leave the country.
Centuries ago, Alexander the Great remarked “the people of Asia are not free because they have not learned to say the word ‘no’.” Romanians will never be free until they say ‘no’ to closed party lists and the political parties that propagate them.