Pandemic and record low turnout bring extremist party into Romania’s Parliament
The Alliance for the Romanians’ Union (AUR), a new party with ultra-nationalist rhetoric, has produced a major surprise in Romania’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, December 6.
AUR could slide into Romania’s Parliament while two of the current parties in the Parliament, PRO Romania – led by former prime minister Victor Ponta and PMP – the party of former president Traian Basescu, are not sure they will pass the 5% threshold.
The partial results after almost half of the votes were counted and centralized indicated the Social Democratic Party (PSD) in the lead, with around 30% of the votes, followed by the ruling Liberal Party (PNL), with 25%, and USR-PLUS, with 13%, according to G4Media.ro. Surprisingly, AUR was fourth, with close to 9% of the counted votes, ahead of the Hungarian Democratic Union (UDMR), with around 8%. PMP and PRO Romania were under the 5% threshold, according to the centralized partial results.
However, these results are not fully representative, as they mainly reflect the votes counted in rural areas and smaller towns, where there were fewer voters and the counting was quicker. The bulk of votes in bigger cities weren’t included in these figures. Neither were the votes in the Diaspora, so the final numbers could differ by several percentage points.
However, fact is that the Alliance for the Romanians’ Union will likely be part of the Parliament, which would make this one the biggest electoral surprises the country has seen in the last 30 years. This is because the party’s candidates are relatively unknown to the general public, expect maybe for two or three of its leaders, who are known for their past initiatives.
AUR was founded in September 2019 by George Simion (opening photo), the founder of a platform that advocates for Romania’s union with the Republic of Moldova. The party’s co-founder is Claudiu Tarziu, one of the leaders of the Coalition for Family, which initiated the referendum to ban same-sex marriages by Constitution. The referendum, which took place in October 2018, didn’t pass due to low turnout, after more than three million people had signed the petition calling for this referendum.
AUR says its doctrine is based on four pillars: family, country, faith, and freedom, according to G4Media.ro. The party also describes itself as “right wing, conservative, patriotic, and unionist,” according to Hotnews.ro. Digi 24 news channel describes the party’s orientation as “extreme right, ultra nationalistic, and anti European.”
During the campaign for the elections, the party positioned itself as an “anti-system movement.” In September, the party organized a protest against masks in Bucharest’s Victoriei Square. At the same time, the party protested against other measures enforced by the authorities, such as banning pilgrimages.
It’s possible that the party’s fast rise has been a result of the recent disputes between the authorities and the Romanian Orthodox Church. The partial results show that AUR scored very well in rural areas and especially in the northeastern Romania region, where the Church and traditions still have a significant influence.
At the same time, AUR’s result was also largely due to the very low turnout rate, as under a third of the Romanians registered to vote went to the polls, an unprecedented situation in the national elections.
This party’s entry into the Parliament will complicate the equation of forming a ruling coalition, especially if the Social Democratic Party (PSD) keeps its lead at the end of the vote counting.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos / Liviu Chirica)