Romania: Political landscape fragmented following December 6th elections

Romania: Political landscape fragmented following December 6th elections

The parliamentary elections, which -despite the pandemic and the stubbornness of the PSD- Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and the Liberal Party of PNL insisted on, in order to enable the center-right forces to advance their reform agenda, did not yield the results Iohannis and Orban desired. A fragmented political landscape emerged where, owing to the mobilization of the region, the PSD emerged -once again- victorious and garnered  the majority of the votes, even with a 5 percentage points ahead of ruling PNL.

TV panel analysts pointed out last night that PSD president Marcel Ciolacu will vigorously claim the post of prime minister; but not for himself, as he has already proposed four names: three politicians and the country’s WHO representative, doctor Alexandru Rafila. They also said it was doubtful whether Ciolacu really wanted his party to take power at such a critical juncture. Their assessment is that he will face, as last year, the refusal of President Iohannis, who has already made it clear that he will favor a center-right government. This will enable Ciolacu to strenuously pursue his opposition policy. His party will not be damaged while his intra-party dynamic will augment.

The latest results, projecting ProRomania below the required threshold to enter Parliament, deprive the PSD of an alliance opportunity to ascend to power. Therefore, in the event that the party assumes office, it will have to ‘necessarily’ resort to the conservative AUR party to form a government, and perhaps that is why the journalists were persistently asking Ciolacu yesterday whether he would cooperate with this political formation. A possibility that he did not reject, since “Romanians are always right when they vote.”

The PNL, trailing by a lot, will probably provide the solution by collaborating with the USR-PLUS and the UDMR. Nonetheless, the party will not be strong enough and will be forced to make compromises. Many voices point out that both the PNL and the USR did not live up to citizens’ expectations. Some are calling for Dan Barna to resign, however his intentions remain unclear. On the other hand, the PNL’s lower-than-expected results could make it easier for Iohannis to select another person from the PNL -instead of Orban- to instruct them, if he so decides.

The UDMR secured, as always, around 6% and will once again play a regulatory role, while advancing its claims in favor of the Hungarian minority.

However, this time it will be called upon to face the xenophobic AUR (Alliance for the Union of Romanians, Alianta pentru Unirea Romanilor) a rather unpleasant prospect which forced UDMR Senator Tanczos Barna to declare that his party is interested in forming a center-right government and that the AUR has no place in 2021 in the Romanian Parliament.

The AUR – which opposes the use of mask claiming it to be a “muzzle” and co-operates with the most conservative circles of the Romanian Church and of the “dissenting to the government on the issue of pilgrimages” Archbishop of Tomis (Constanța) Theodosius-, declares that its sovereignty is trampled on and attacked by current political forces, which seek to impose “forms of internal or external federation”. The party speaks of ethnic minority organizations that “do not represent the interests of the Romanian brothers” and are the creators of certain forms of “extremism and emancipation”, which the alliance is committed to fighting.

The AUR was established “just” on December 1, 2019. Co-chairs are George Simion, who unsuccessfully ran for MEP in the last elections, and journalist Claudiu Tarziu. Simion was deported from the Republic of Moldova in 2015 for five years following his work in favor of the country’s union with Romania. Claudiu Tarziu was an ardent supporter of the mobilizations for the referendum of the ‘Alliance for the Family’, which seeks to reform the Constitution in the most conservative way in matters of marriage, family, abortion and so forth.

This political formation is rooted in the following four values: homeland, religion, family and freedom, yet a freedom that is not for everyone or is conditional, despite the declarations.

In the AUR positions on foreign policy (and not only), we once again come across the PRM positions (Party of Greater Romania) led by Corneliu Vadim Tudor, once a state nationalist party that followed its leader in his downward spiral and breathed its last breath after his death.

“Romania’s path can have only one direction: Europe”, but not Europe as we know it today, in the form of the European Union, which the AUR calls the “United States of Europe”; rather a reshaped Europe on the basis of “Greek philosophy, Roman law and Christianity”. The AUR has chosen to promote the goal of making “Greater Romania” a leader in Central Europe. The AUR also considers that, at the moment, the European Union represents “a federal-type socialist empire” with “bad hegemonic tendencies.”

The AUR alliance makes no reference in its political agenda to relations with the United States. In its only vague reference to the Euro-Atlantic alliance, it underlines the “return to normalcy”, by turning Romania into a “leader within the Euro-Atlantic family.” Only at the end of the founding declaration, the need to “strengthen the eastern wing of NATO” is noted, and only in the context of “the acceptance of reunification with the Republic of Moldova as a national project.”

With its super-conservative, nationalist and vague positions – for example on how to achieve what was mentioned in the previous paragraph – the AUR managed to extract a percentage of 9% within the country and finish second among the diaspora voters, behind the USR- PLUS. With 58% of the votes counted, it has won 26.51% of the vote, three and a half points ahead of the PNL.

In fact, according to stats by aur-diaspora, in Italy and Cyprus the first party came in first, with 36.16% and 36.71% respectively, while it finished second in Spain and France with percentages 26.73% and 25.87% respectively.

Within Romania, the AUR has a strong presence in Iasi, where it received 12.3% in the Senate and 11.9% in Parliament, and 8.57% and 7.54% respectively in Timisoara.

The AUR came as a surprise to many as its campaign was carried out not through the mainstream media, but rather online. /ibna