Romania: Municipal election results highlight tendency for change

Romania: Municipal election results highlight tendency for change

Yesterday’s municipal elections in Romania were highlighted as a significant crash test for the December parliamentary elections, with the results showing a tendency for change, as new faces step up in the political scene.

Bucharest, the country’s largest municipality, was dominated by PNL and USR-PLUS-backed Nicusor Dan. With 90% of the votes counted, he received 41.82% against 37.4% of Gabriela Firea.

In the Bucharest constiuencies, the winners were: Clotilde Armand (USR-PLUS) in the 1st constituency, Radu Mihaiu (USR-PLUS) in the 2nd, Robert Negoita (Pro România) in the 3rd, Daniel Băluţă (PSD) in the 4th, Cristian Popescu Piedone in the 5th constituency, while in the 6th district Ciprian Ciucu (PNL) clinched first place.

Nicuşor Dan comes from USR-PLUS, as did the mayors of districts 1 and 2, who claimed unexpected victories: Clotilde Armand and the almost unknown Radu Mihaiu. USR-PLUS also won in other major urban centers, such as Timişoara, where German-born Dominic Fritz defeated Nicolae Robu (PNL), and Braşov, where Allen Coliban knocked out liberal George Scripcaru. In Constanţa, Stelian Ion (USR-PLUS) is running against Vergil Chitac (PNL). At Câmpulung Muscel, Elena Lasconi (USR-PLUS) emerged victorious, although not from this city, while Lucian Stanciu Viziteu from USR-PLUS also appears to be winning the municipality of Bacău.

In its analysis, the newspaper Adevarul records the spectacular rise of USR-PLUS, which has chosen to promote young people, educated, with studies abroad, and points out that in terms of political voting, the PNL is lagging behind: it won only 17% of the vote for General Council of the capital, while the USR and the PSD each received 33%.

In the province, the PNL prevailed in 17 Prefectural Councils, the PSD in 20, the UDMR in 4, and the USR-PLUS in none.

How the next Parliament will be formed, Adevarul newspaper points out, will depend on the conciliation of the PNL and USR-PLUS parties. If these two large factions fail to reach an agreement on the parliamentary elections, then yesterday’s victory of the right will be elusive.

The news of the defeat of “baron” of Vrancea for more than two decades Marian Oprisan managed to even overshadow the dominance of Nicusor Dan in Bucharest. The winner was PNL senator Cătălin Dumitru Toma, born in 1977, who was also supported by USR PLUS. In Focsani, however, Mihai Chirica (PSD), who ousted Liberal Development Minister Ion Stefan, remains mayor. The title of the relevant article on Digi24 is indicative:

Turnout at Bucharest was higher than in 2016 (36.93% vs. 33.31%) and confirmed estimates that it would favor Nicusor Dan. Younger citizens heeded the calls of USR-PLUS presidents Dan Barna and Dacian Ciolos and turned out to vote, especially in the afternoon and in the evening, securing the victory of the right-wing candidate, as they outnumbered voters over 65 who headed to the polls at the same time and voted for the PSD. Older people voted mainly in the morning. Due to long queues, the Central Electoral Authority allowed voting after 9 pm for voters around the polling stations. Total participation reached 46.02% compared to 48.44% in 2016.

The largest share in the whole country was won by the mayor of the community of Ciugud in the county of Alba, Gheorghe Damian, who was re-elected with 84% of the votes. This is because in Ciugud houses have electricity and water, the roads are paved, even between the rural areas, there is free wireless internet, “smart” schools, bike paths, and the roads are lit with wind energy and solar systems, all this through European funds. Damian, in early 2017, after winning his fifth term in Ciugud Municipality with 85% of the vote, was fired by the PSD.

The oddities of this electoral process came from Deveselu, where the winner was the Mayor who died ten days ago from COVID-19, while in the community of Sadova, Dolj County, the mayor Eugen Safta passed away shortly after his election. /ibna