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President Iohannis: If pandemic doesn't get worse and we take strict measures we can have elections


President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday stated that local elections can be organised in September if the COVID-19 pandemic doesn't get worse and strict measures are being taken. "Personally, I am convinced that, if the pandemic doesn't get worse and we take strict and specific measures, we can have elections. And I want to be very clear when speaking about the elections: we will organise everything very well for the people to be safe when coming to vote. For it's not more complicated to come to vote than going to the hypermarket or to the store to buy bread. We can take distancing measures, safety measures, hygiene measures. The more complicated thing is to organise the campaign itself, in case that the pandemic doesn't get worse or stays the same, for this campaign will be facing atypical conditions," Iohannis told a press conference at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.

În this context he said that it was difficult for Parliament to set the date for the general election alone, citing a possible conflict. "This law has just reached me and I will probably give an exhaustive answer when I decide to promulgate or not promulgate the law at this stage. But a few considerations I think need to be taken into account at this stage. In the last 30 years, the governments have set the dates for the elections and now we find ourselves in the situation where Parliament wants to take up this prerogative by law, which, when we talk about local elections, is a matter that can be discussed and, indeed, the Constitutional Court has said it is up to Parliament to decide whether Parliament itself sets the date for the elections, and September 27 has been set, or whether to leave that up to the Government. Now, when we talk about the general election, it is a little bit different. How would it be for Parliament to decide alone when Parliament is elected? Let's imagine that a large number of lawmakers want to stay there and simply don't make any decisions, what do we do, we don't hold elections? That is somehow complicated because Parliament, this time, has to decide on the election of Parliament itself. Isn't there some kind of conflict there? All these things must be weighed very well, but, no matter how they will be weighed, we must take the Constitution into account," Iohannis said at a news conference at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.

He pointed out that the term in office of lawmakers cannot be extended. "The term cannot be extended and, consequently, we can make a relatively simple calculation, because in addition to the term of office, the Constitution also stipulates the period of 20 days after the elections, when the president convenes the new parliament. (...) But if the law remains and Parliament simply decides nothing, what do we do? And then we quickly come to the conclusion that maybe that is not the best solution, but, once again, we will analyse this issue and give a very clear public answer," said Iohannis. 

About declaring again a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 epidemic , Iohnnis said that it will be a last resort. "The decision to declare again the state of emergency can be taken only insofar as the specialists tell me that there is no other solution and I want to believe that there is another solution. I want to believe that Romanians do not want this disease; I want to believe that Romanians, together with the authorities, together with me, will follow the rules, so that we do not end up in a situation where we can no longer control the spread of this disease. I am confident that together we will be able to control this epidemic reasonably, reasonably meaning not to have a significant increase in the number of infected people moving forward. Let me consider declaring again a state of emergency, which would affect freedoms and civil rights, which would again inhibit economic life, a last resort, when we have no other possibility to re-enter a pandemic control area," Iohannis told a news conference at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.

He said the government had done its job to manage the pandemic. "Everyone needs to follow these rules, but let's not confuse the general action with the action to the point of people who didn't understand anything. The government as a whole has done its job, is doing its job managing public affairs," said Iohannis.

He also spoke about the acquisitions during this period. "During the state of emergency there was a special procurement procedure and I pointed out then and now that no matter what procedures there are, the law must be observed and people must be respected. (...) Who did not observe the law or who fraudulently tried to get rich out of people's troubles will pay off and I am convinced that those who made a mistake will be found and held accountable," the president said.

He added that next week he will have a meeting with Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, Minister of Education Monica Anisie and other ministers with responsibilities in the area of Education to discuss the scenarios for the opening of the new school and academic year. He also said that "school will certainly not start under normal conditions, because the pandemic will not disappear until September".

"It would be very complicated to have only online school. And then we move towards a mixed scenario, where, probably, depending on local conditions, we will have more normal school with pupils at school or more online or a mixed system. How these things will go, will be determined exactly in a week or two and it will be communicated to the public," Iohannis explained.

On the other hand, he said that pensions will increase, but it is "simply impossible" to increase them by 40%. "It is obvious that a 40% increase in pensions is simply not possible, there is not money. On the other hand, it is reasonable to think of an increase in pensions. We cannot leave the most vulnerable category, pensioners, to pay in full the costs of the recession, of the economic contraction. But here, too, the just measure is important," Iohannis declared at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace. "Pensions will increase. How much will this increase be, the Government will calculate and will come up with the necessary measures," the head of state said.