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Iohannis: In solid, democratic society, political majority and opposition must act in public interest

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President Klaus Iohannis declared on Thursday that in a solid democratic society, the political majority and the opposition must act in the public interest, highlighting that this commitment must always come before any other political confrontations' stakes.

In the speech delivered at the International Conference "The interaction between the political majority and the opposition in a democracy", carried out under the patronage of the President of Romania and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and taking place at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, the head of state reminded that in his speech in January in the Plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, he was showing that Europe needs "solid democratic societies, in which the majorities do not take advantage of their legitimate rights just because they are a majority, only because they have won the elections with a substantial percentage, because taking hold of power, the special responsibilities arising from here must also be assumed."

"I cannot help but thinking, when talking about these responsibilities, of the increasingly clear tendency of an ever lower voting presence in the European area electoral process. In such a context, the political majority, though built on a high percentage, oblige all the more to assuming and exercising governing with responsibility. We need, therefore, in view of recent years developments in some European countries, including the proliferation of populist and Eurosceptic behavior, to strengthen the parameters framework and to guarantee the interaction between the majority and the opposition, " said Iohannis.

The Head of the State stressed that, "in a solid liberal democracy, based on free and fair elections, the so-called 'dictatorship of the minority' is not acceptable, but neither is the 'dictatorship of the majority', which through abuse, based on the concept ' the winner takes it all ', affects the pluralism, the social balance and the democratic functioning of the society based on the rule of law." That is, as shown by the President, to arrive at 'democratura', as defined in specialized environments.

He stressed that no politician elected by the people to represent their interests can ignore the citizens' voice.

"The more the power and the opposition refuse to listen to what citizens want, including when taking to the streets, the more it deepens the rift between society and the political class. And the consequences are dramatic for all with long lasting effects. But the majority, precisely because it is a majority, should know to act in the exertion of power with a necessary self-imposed restraint and with tolerance towards the opposition's efforts, in an inclusive and transparent manner. Because the majority must be aware that in turn, it will once become a minority, " said the head of the state.

He reiterated that in a democratic society, the normal criticism exercised by the opposition cannot be seen as a destructive element and cannot be interpreted as a lack of acceptance of the democratic elections' results, but "only as a part — just as legitimate as the effort and activity of the majority — a healthy liberal democratic system."

According to the head of the state, a stable, liberal, democratic society requires that measures taken by the majority do not affect the rule of law, in the broad sense, and not pursue any damage to the democratic 'game', eventually involving the alternation to power through free elections.

He acknowledged his full awareness of the difficulty of the Venice Commission's in the development of possible guidelines of the Council of Europe regarding the role and responsibilities of the political majority in interaction with the opposition, in a democratic society.

The President mentioned that democracy is a "genuine strategic infrastructure of the European states", of the European society, and "strengthening" its immunity " and resilience, defending this strategic infrastructure are in each and all of European citizens' best direct interest.

Iohannis further said that the Romanian society has recently shown that it is mature and pro-European, that it is prepared to efficiently defend their rule of law values and that it has its own strong 'antibodies' toward anything that might affect the health of its democracy.

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President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday met at the Cotroceni presidential Palace the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Pedro Agramunt and President of the European Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe (Venice Commission) Gianni Buquicchio, reads a release of the Presidential Administration. 

President Klaus Iohannis and the above-mentioned officials appreciated in particular the excellent relations between Romania and the Council of Europe. 

"Romania's President showed confidence that the Conference's works will bring results and concrete benefits to the European democratic environment. They represent an important contribution of our country to the debates on this matter, to the effort of the Venice Commission, respectively, which is underway to drafting a report on this issue, at the Council of Europe's Secretary General request," says the release. 

The Presidential Administration mentions that the officials have highlighted the added value the potential adoption, at CoE level, of guidelines, conclusions or principles regarding the majority-opposition interaction will have for the strengthening of democracy at European level. 

Aspects of substance regarding the evolutions at constitutional level in the European states were also addressed, alongside the ways to avoid obstacles in the functioning of the democratic system, as well as the situation of the fight against corruption in the Council of Europe's member states. 

During the talk with the Deputy Secretary General of the CoE, an exchange of opinions took place on the national minorities situation, the Romanian President stressing the relevance of the Romanian intercultural model regarding the inter-ethnic relationship. 

Other files of interest on the CoE's Ministers Committee were also tackled, adds the source. 

The head of the state's meetings with these officials were occasioned by the "Interaction between the political majority and opposition in a democracy" international Conference, taking place Thursday through Friday at the Cotroceni presidential Palace, under the aegis of the President of Romania and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.



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