Report + database

Parties, elections and local government in Romania. The database of local elected officials and women’s participation in local politics

 

The 2020-2024 local political cycle is one year away and the authorities have yet to create a public database of over 46,000 local elected representatives, as they should. This would not only be a sign of transparency and a useful tool for the media and analysts, but would also allow checks on the extent to which the law or good practice is being followed in terms of organising preliminary elections where appropriate, or respecting gender balance in institutions. In addition, it would be a sign that the government’s commitments to encourage the use of open data are being respected. And if it has not been possible to make a clear record of the 46,000, imagine the chances of being able to quickly create, under election campaign conditions, detailed databases and analyses of the approximately 250,000 candidates who usually register for a round of local elections in Romania, as will happen in 2024.

EFOR has attempted to fill these gaps by gathering data from multiple sources, verifying and cleaning this information – the quality of our public databases is notoriously heterogeneous – and building a systematic database of local elected officials currently in office. It’s been an ant’s job that wouldn’t have to happen if government institutions were doing the job they’re paid to do. Below is the story of this methodological effort, with its ups and downs. Based on the information gathered, we’ve also included a section with the most interesting findings on women’s participation in politics at the local government level, and what discrepancies exist on these variables between counties and parties.

* The database will be updated as we receive more information from prefectures or local authorities.

Conclusions related to data

  • EFOR has requested data from Ministry of Interior (MoI), Ministry of Development, Public Works and Development (MoD) and prefectures. The MoI did not send us the data, citing the protection of personal data and the fact that they are in the election minutes. MoD sent us the data after an administrative complaint. Reactions from the prefectures have been different, some citing protection of personal data, and many claiming that it is not their job to process the data – although it is, by law. Some prefectures such as Iasi, Brasov, Mures, Suceava, Bihor or Bistrița Năsăud did not send us the data even after the administrative complaint. We think it is ridiculous to invoke the protection of personal data for people elected to public office, whose names appear on the minutes and who submit declarations of assets and interests, which are also public.
  • This experience shows us a few things:
    • Very different interpretations of the law on access to information and the powers of the institution.
    • In some cases, faulty collection of data, which comes primarily from the town halls. Thus, the data received from MoD are missing, including local elected officials in some localities, the party of the elected officials, and for Mures county there is no information at all.
    • In some counties, the data does not seem to be updated.
    • Lack of staff and difficult data collection in prefectures
    • The data submitted have different formats – some include only name and party, while others include other information such as profession

Women’s participation in politics

EFOR has added information on the gender of elected officials, based on a database we also built previously for the 2020 elections. Note that there are no detailed statistics on women’s participation in politics at local level. Some conclusions:

  • Overall, we found that only 14.6% of elected officials at local level are women, well below the 23% of candidates, which was already considered low.
  • The best representation by county is in Dobrogea, some counties in Moldova and Transylvania, and the weakest seems to be in counties with a majority Hungarian population, some counties in Maramures, Muntenia and Oltenia.
  • The municipality of Bucharest does best in terms of women’s representation in elected positions, with 27% – especially visible at the general council level. The only 2 counties with representation above 20% are Tulcea (23.7%) and Constanța (21.5%), followed by Arad (19.2%) and Dâmbovița (18.9%). The last counties are Vâlcea (10.7%) and Satu Mare (10.5%).
  • We have identified 8 communities where the proportion of women is higher than 50% and 13 where it is equal to that of men. We identified 665 communities where there are no women in elected public office, i.e. in a quarter of the communities in the country. In another 860 cases the proportion is below 10%.
  • Most women are local councillors (89.4%), followed by county councillors (4%) and mayors (2.6%). Between 3 and 4% of locally elected women are deputy mayors.
  • By type of local authority, most women are found in municipalities – 76% and in towns – 10%. Of all locally elected women, 8% are in municipalities.
  • For mayors, we identified 180 women. According to the data, there are only four mayors of municipalities and cities who are women. In the municipalities these are Iulia Badea (Aiud), Elena Lăsconi (Câmpulung Muscel), Lia Olguța Vasilescu (Craiova), Astrid Fodor (Sibiu), plus Clotide Armand, mayor of Sector 1. In Bistrița Năsăud county, there are no female mayors, and in Harghita, Brașov, Galați, Covasna, Sălaj, there is only one female mayor. The most female mayors are in Constanța (11) and Dolj (10).
  • Botoșani, Galați and Arad are the best in terms of county councillors, with over 30% women. At the other extreme are Brasov (8.8%), Calarasi (9%), Covasna (10.7%) and Neamt (10%). For vice-presidents, out of a sample of 35 counties, only 12.6% are women. Only 2 women are presidents of county councils, in Sibiu and Botoșani.
  • In Bucharest, Sector 1 is best represented (42%), followed by CGMB (30%), Sector 3 (28%), Sectors 2 and 4 (27%), Sector 6 (20%) and Sector 5 (16%).
  • Relative to the number of elected party members, USR-PLUS has almost 18% women – this is an estimate based on existing data, which shows only in a few cases the party in the alliance from which the candidate comes; individually by party, the proportion may be different. PSD, PER, PPUSL, FDGR were at 15% and UDMR scored 13%, as did Pro Romania and PMP respectively. Among PNL elected representatives, 14% are women. In ALDE, 10% of elected members are women, and of the AUR local elected members, 8% are women. Among independents, the percentage of women reaches 10%.

Recommendations

  • Publish the list of local elected representatives (with validated mandates) and bi-annual updates in open format
  • Publish various statistics (gender, age, number of mandates, hierarchical position in relation to gender, etc.) on local elected representatives and include this information in the database.
  • Clarification of the legislation to establish who is responsible for managing this data. Preferably, data on elected representatives could be accessible at the level of the Permanent Electoral Authority, the institution which has a role in the administration of electoral processes and which should create a platform including all electoral data, in the long term and for all types of elections.
  • Exporting data from election protocols into open formats that allow for an easier reuse

 

Project implemented by

The Participatory and Relevant Local Public Policies project is implemented by Expert Forum Association in partnership with the Romanian Housing Association Casa Plus, Euroland Banat, the Civic Resource Center and the “Mircea Eliade” National College in Resita and benefits from a 149,858 euro grant from Active Citizens Fund Romania, programme funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants Grants 2014 -2021. The content of this website does not necessarily reflect the official position of the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021; for more information visit www.eeagrants.org. More details about Active Citizens Fund Romania are available at www.activecitizensfund.ro. ”Working together for a green, competitive and inclusive Europe”


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