By Marian Chiriac
All the main Romania parties competing in the December election are issuing impressive-sounding promises about jobs and taxes – which experts say will be hard to deliver.
New jobs, an increase in the minimum monthly wage and cutting corporate and personal income taxes are among the electoral promises that the main parties in Romania are making ahead of general elections scheduled for next December 9.
The centre-left ruling coalition of Social Democrats and Liberals, USL, is promising to create around 1.4 million new jobs, mainly in rural areas, as well as to raise pensions and lure more foreign investment.
For its part, the new alliance of centre-right parties, the Alliance for the Romanian Right, ARD, is promising to cut the single rate tax to 12 per cent from 16 per cent, and lower employers’ social contributions.
The ARD is also planning to raise the minimum wage from 700 lei (155 euro) a month to 850 lei in 2013 and 1,000 lei in 2015 and cut companies’ social security contributions by 5 per cent, from the current level of about 30 per cent.
Analysts say all political parties are trying to win the hearts of the people, but they have to be more realistic.
“The problem is that most of the promises are hard to deliver. It is normal to try to better the lives of Romanians, but this should be done accordingly to a clear and realistic strategy. And the parties have no such strategy,” a political analyst, Emil Hirezeanu, said.
Latest polls suggest that the USL coalition led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta remains on course to win the election.
Ponta’s aliance is tipped to win around 55 per cent of the vote, only slightly down from the 60 per cent it was polling over the summer.
The ARD, a grouping dominated by the opposition Democratic Liberals – deeply unpopular for enforcing past austerity measures – has the support of some 16-18 per cent.
The populist People’s Party, PP, which advocates tax cuts and higher wages and pensions, came third in the polls with 14 per cent.
The PP is run by a journalist-turned businessman, Dan Diaconescu, who is under investigation for allegedly breaking the law in a bid to buy the chemical company, Oltchim, which was subsequently thrown out by privatisation officials.
In an effort to curb the tradition of vote-buying, the government this week ruled that while candidates may distribute promotional materials, such as caps, pens or lighters, their value should not exceed 10 Lei (2.5 euro).
It is for the first time in 20 years of democracy that Romania has attempted to regulate the sensitive issue of vote-buying.
Vote-buying, by offering petty gifts such as sugar, cooking oil and clothes, has become an accepted practice in Romania, mainly used in poor areas.