First thoughts on Romania’s election

Votes cast in yesterday’s Romanian general election are still being counted, but there are already more than a few conclusions that we can draw from the election. Here. for what they are worth, are ours:

1. The USL will have a huge majority in parliament

The final numbers will probably be lower than the exit polls suggested last night, but the USL looks set to take as many as 62 per cent of the seats in parliament, in the main thanks to the fact that it won so many seats outright (its candidates having taken 50 per cent of the vote in a constituency). Early reports suggest that in Bucharest the USL has taken all 40 seats.

2. The USL’s two primary components are not on the same page

Crin Antonescu’s surprised and somewhat hostile reaction to Victor Ponta’s co-opting of the UDMR to form a constitutional majority – 66 per cent of parliamentary seats – suggests he had not been told of any such USL-UDMR deal. (Or if he had been told, he had been opposed to it). Indeed, Antonescu spent much of last night doing a very good impersonation of a man who had just lost an election, not won one. It makes us wonder why.

3. The PDL’s last-minute name-change will go down as one of the worst re-brandings in political history

The PDL was never going to win yesterday’s election, but a sound campaign could have limited the damage. Instead, it ran one of the worst campaigns in living memory. Not only was it lacklustre, but it was self-defeating in its daftness. Creating spin-off parties such as the Forta Civica and the Civic Initiative and then bringing them under the umbrella of the Alianta Romania Dreapta (ARD) just a month or so before the election destroyed the PDL’s identity: still worth something in some parts. Many voters had no idea what the ARD was: no wonder they didn’t vote for it.

4. Some big names will miss out on parliament

No PDL candidate appears to have won a seat outright. This means that they will face the lottery of redistribution. (See here for details on how it is done). A couple of particularly big names, including PDL leader Vasile Blaga, former parliamentary speaker Roberta Anastase and former prime minster Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu look to have missed out completely. Elena Udrea however, although only finishing second in her constituency, polled far higher than the ARD average and looks set to make the cut.

5. Turnout was relatively high

It might seem a strange thing to say given that more than half of Romanians with the right to vote stayed at home, but given the weather the fact that a larger percentage of people voted than in 2008 was something of a surprise. The national turnout was 41.2 per cent, with the biggest turnout being – as usual – in the PSD heartlands of Teleorman and Gorj.

6. Traian Ungureanu is a poor loser

PDL Euro MP Traian Ungureanu – perhaps the most dedicated and vociferous supporter in the country of president Traian Basescu – made a desperate and really rather nasty appeal yesterday to the people of the Banat and Transylvania to ‘stop the Teleormanisation of Romania.’ Ungureanu appears to have been upset at the fact that people in Teleorman were voting in large numbers for the USL – which should have come as no surprise to anyone – while in traditionally PDL areas voters were staying at home.

7. Traian Basescu must take the blame for much of the ARD’s disastrous result

Yesterday was, as much as anything, a vote against Traian Basescu. We seriously doubt that too many of those who voted for the USL did so out of any conviction for its policies. Instead, they were voting against Traian Basescu, and the PDL/ARD paid the price. The big question now is can Basescu survive in office until the end of his term, in December 2014?

8. The PP-DD is in parliament

Politics, bloody hell. Now, while the thought of the populist PP-DD taking parliamentary seats is not exactly the best news we’ve had all week, there is a silver lining to this particular cloud: a new party, less than two years old, which formed no electoral alliances took around 12 per cent of the vote. OK, the PP-DD had plenty of money behind it, and a TV channel, but the point remains valid: those who wish to get into parliament do not necessarily need to remain prisoners of or slaves to the old party structures. Is that not at least a crumb of comfort to take out of yesterday’s vote?

29 comments

  1. Andy H says:

    I think we can now see why Antonescu was so opposed to the UDMR being in the coalition since hos pronouncements since the election are getting steadily more xenophobic and divisive.

    It’s shocking how far the PNL have fallen, that I now regard them as the dangerously dodgy party in the coalition with the PSD. And it is the PNL that has brought Becali into the parliament an act he celebrated yesterday with some more of his obnoxious racist shit.

    I’m genuinely beginning to have slight fears about what this new government means to the place I live and things which are very important to me, such as my children’s education.

    • Craig Turp says:

      Becali’s comments yesterday would have him forced out of public office anywhere in the civilised world.

    • Parmalat says:

      If you ever thought that a minority can defy an entire nation without consequences…

      How many of them expressed their opinion in the referendum last summer? The region will be boycotted at all levels accordingly.

      First thing they’re gonna have to do is learn the Romanian language.

      • Andy H says:

        Not voting in that referendum was expressing an opinion as you well know.

        And they do fucking learn the Romanian language. This shit opinion of hard right Romanian scum who think that people whose first language is not Romanian should speak Romanian all the time, even at home,is just that. Absolute racist shit.

        Go fuck yourself Parmalat, and take your racism, misogynistic, homophobic bollocks with you.

        • Parmalat says:

          Oh, so they did express their opinion!!

          Well… in that case the region will be boycotted at all levels according to the opinion they expressed!

          Romanian language is the language used in public administration. No person who holds a Romanian ID may speak other language than Romanian when working for a private institution. The Hungarian minority however is not interested in the language of the country that accepted them.

          I have a friend who works for BRD. Whenever he calls the BRD branch in Miercurea Ciuc he needs to speak English cause they don’t understand Romanian. How the f*ck can this be allowed to happen?!

          The minister of Internal Affairs, Mircea Dusa, was invited to Radu Tudor’s show on Antena 3 on Saturday. He was born in Harghita, one of the few Romanian MPs coming from Harghita. And he told us how the Hungarian ethnics only speak Hungarian in local council gatherings and if a Romanian ethnic doesn’t speak Hungarian language – he will have little opportunities of getting hired in public institutions that are subordinated to the local council.

          This country is still Romania and everyone – including the Hungarian minority – must respect the country! And this time I’m not even being racist, I’m only appealing to bun simt.

          people whose first language is not Romanian should speak Romanian all the time, even at home

          You’re obviously a foreigner and you don’t understand Romanian mentality. No Romanian person will ever forbid anyone to behave exactly the way they want: in their home, in their bed, with their own ass, with their own wife etc…

          But in public occasions everyone must have bun simt! Bun simt is what differentiates Romanians from foreigners, it appears that foreigners don’t understand this concept.

          • Parmalat says:

            No person who holds a Romanian ID may speak other language than Romanian when working for a public institution *

          • Parmalat says:

            Had we treated them like the Kurds were treated in Syria and Iraq, I would have understood their concerns.

            But we treated them with bun simt, we treated them as our equals! And as long as they live in this country, we demand bun simt and equal treatment from them too!

          • Andy H says:

            I don’t believe your BRD friend, I’m sorry. There are very very few people who don;t speak Romanian here, and those that don’t are either old people in isolated villages or people who just really really struggle with learning a second language (and there are a few, very few, of those). It maybe that they don’t speak Romanian terribly well (and this I do believe), but I’d argue that this is partly the problem with the Romanian education system which assumes all Romanian citizens speak Romanian as a first language.

            I don’t disagree with most of the rest of your post here, BUT

            What you proposed in your first post and the beginning of the second is collective punishment on all the members of the Hungarian minority (including my children) for the fact that the majority of that group didn’t support the impeachment of Basescu. And if that is your attitude you can fuck right off with your racist bullshit.

          • Parmalat says:

            Well, to be honest – I personally have nothing against Hungarian people. Being a former chess player I can say I met many ethnic Hungarian chess players, they used to have a strong tradition in chess in Targu Mures and Miercurea Ciuc. I played around 5-6 tournaments in Tusnad which were organized by local clubs, I visited the surroundings and I haven’t felt any difference between the way I was treated in Covasna / Harghita and other places in Romania.

            Unfortunately for them, they either respected Viktor Orban’s request to not vote in the referendum or the UDMR’s request (to not vote in the referendum) and through this attitude they created a political vulnerability for themselves.

            There is no doubt that as long as the images of Basescu, UDMR, Viktor Orban, the referendum, Merkel, the EU, the US will exist in the Romanian society – the region will be boycotted economically and politically in a silent manner by the parties in power (which will stay in power for a long time).

            Do I agree with boycotting the region where most ethnic Hungarians live? Maybe I personally don’t, or at least not for the reason that they’re Hungarians. There’s already a fracture in the Romanian society itself, we hate the people that voted for Basescu even if they’re Romanians; unfortunately we can’t find them that easily cause we would punish them as well for all these years of misery which they brought upon us.

            We know Romanian expats in their majority voted for Basescu and Romanian expats will get their f*cking share too!!!

            Unfortunately for Hungarian ethnics living in Romania – it was proven that not UDMR and not even Viktor Orban give a f*ck about them. They were misguided out of political interests, because the Hungarian politicians knew damn well the vulnerability they were creating. Citizens were supposed to be smarter than politicians, because they live in Romania and they too had their salaries and pensions cut and hospitals closed down. Unfortunately they preferred to listen to politicians, in defiance of common sense; they gambled on a losing hand and they lost the stake it’s that simple.

            Everyone who voted for Basescu and the PDL or supported Basescu in the referendum should feel that they gambled on a losing hand, just the way we felt when Basescu and the PDL were in power and our beloved PSD lost the elections. They should have their salaries and pensions cut and should have entrance forbidden in Romanian hospitals. Be them Romanian, Hungarian or whatever. That’s my stance.

          • Andy H says:

            That’s pretty much the antithesis of democracy. Punish people who vote in a way you don’t agree with? At what point do you start locking them up in Sighet or sending them to the gulag?

            If this is the mindset of the government (and I certainly hope it isn’t), I find myself for the first time supporting genuine insurrection by the disenfranchised.

          • Parmalat @ Everyone says:

            Did you support our insurrection back in January 2012?

          • C.B. says:

            More often than not I gave my vote to UDMR. I guess I thought it would help them somehow, I assumed it is harder for the fewer fellows in a country/world full of imbeciles.

            How the heck can you be a former chess player? You probably want to say that you don’t compete anymore. When you get back from your Mia-induced ATM trip your should give us your yahoo rating.

          • Parmalat says:

            1815

          • C.B. says:

            “that’s a huge bitch!”

          • Parmalat says:

            I never said I was a national champion, I only played at a professional level when I was a kid, between 1991 and 2003.

          • Craig Turp says:

            There are some nationalist parties I could back – Plaid Cymru for example – but the UDMR has never struck me as being one of them. Chancers, in my opinion, with few actual policies. I mean the whole autonomy thing: are they for or against?

          • Andy H says:

            Quite agree. People here, when I occasionally go off on one about their pointlessness, assure me that if it weren’t for the UDMR they’d be screwed, and that while they don;t actually do anything especially proactive they do ensure that the Hungarians are not pissed all over by Bucharest.

            I don;t really agree, because I don’t actually think that the majority of politicians* care enough about anything but themselves to waste any time in pissing over Hungarians, but that’s the feeling. I guess now we’ll find out if the defenders of the UDMR were right all along.

            (*well aside from bigoted scum like Becali and Parmalat)

          • Parmalat says:

            Those are called Nationalist politicians.

          • Mister Rearguard says:

            “I have a friend who works for BRD. Whenever he calls the BRD branch in Miercurea Ciuc he needs to speak English cause they don’t understand Romanian. How the f*ck can this be allowed to happen?!”……………..It shouldn’t be allowed to happen. It’s getting bad in my old country too with people not speaking or even willing to learn English!

  2. Parmalat says:

    An anocracy, is a regime type where power is not vested in public institutions (as in a normal democracy) but spread amongst elite groups who are constantly competing with each other for power. Examples of anocracies in Africa include the warlords of Somalia and the shared governments in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

    @Expatescu

    Acolo te trimit =)))))))))))))

  3. […] Economist's Eastern Approaches and Bucharest Life comment on the results of the Dec. 9 parliamentary elections in Romania. […]

  4. Mr Rearguard says:

    HELP: Where can I find fresh Cranberrys/merișor? I need them badly. If not, I will have no choice but to cancel Christmas!

  5. Parmalat says:

    We are BIIIIIIIG :mrgreen:

  6. Andy H says:

    The co-opting of the UDMR is purely at a proposal stage isn’t it? Though I’m sure the UDMR will sign up to it despite their current coyness.

    How’s Becali going to cope with being a coalition with the UDMR? His head might explode.

    • Craig Turp says:

      Given that the actual results look to be pushing the USL close to the magic 66 per cent of seats, they may not even now need the UDMR.

    • Parmalat says:

      Ponta was afraid that he wouldn’t obtain a solid majority and that Basescu would try to steal MPs from the USL and form a PDL government (just as he did in 2008).

      I’m absolutely sure that he negotiated with the UDMR behind Antonescu’s back.

      But yesterday’s figures turned out into a 66%-of-the-seats majority for the USL [according to Liviu Dragnea’s count released like 30 minutes ago] so the alliance with UDMR is no longer needed.

      I personally would prefer the USL to steal another 10-15 MPs from the other parties and together with the 18 representatives of the national minorities – form an alliance of 70% in order to modify the Constitution and end Basescu’s term early. And keep the UDMR out of power because of their support for the Basescu – Boc regime and salaries and pension cuts.

      I’m not sure Antonescu is gonna swallow the UDMR that easily, the alliance may in the end be reduced to some official support by the UDMR for the USL’s new constitutional project [and some unofficial support by the USL through some contracts with the state for the UDMR members].

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