On Sunday, December 11th, Romanians from all over the world had the chance to vote in the country’s parliamentary election and select new leaders to carry forward reforms started by the present technocrat government supported mainly by the nation’s young generation and forward-thinking citizens. Some of the main contenders in this election were the populist and left-leaning Social Democrat Party (PSD), the National Liberal Party (PNL), the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), the party set up by former president Traian Basescu (the People’s Movement Party – PMP), UDMR (the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania) and the new comer Save Romania Union (USR).
PSD obtained more than 45% of the votes and aims to seek a coalition with ALDE in order to form a majority and set up a new government in the following weeks. The Social Democrat Party held the power until November of 2015, when ample street demonstrations following a major blaze in nightclub Colectiv in Bucharest determined Victor Ponta, the country’s Prime Minister at the time, to step down. As a result, a new government was formed, led by independent Dacian Ciolos, former EU commissioner, which has initiated a series of reforms aimed at making the country’s administration more transparent and efficient and propel the economy on a progressive path.
Despite PSD’s noteworthy result, the revelation of this election seems to have been USR, a party founded approximately 6 months prior to the election by mathematician, activist and double gold medalist at the International Mathematics Olympiads in 1987 and 1988, Nicusor Dan. USR, which came third in the election by winning over 9% of the votes and therefore securing seats in the Parliament, seems to have attracted the attention and support of Romanians, living in the country and abroad (“diaspora”), aiming to steer the country unto a more forward-looking and progressive direction. This party has emerged from various civil society groups formed at local level and brings together both left and right individuals, civic activists, business people, as well as former members of the current technocrat government. USR’s political platform appears to focus on political integrity, reform, efficiency, investing in the IT sector, creative industries, higher education and creating an infrastructure for prioritizing the public sector and aims to offer Romanians a clear alternative to existing political parties.
While PSD’s win raises questions regarding the future of the reforms enacted by the current Prime Minister Ciolos, having a party such as USR in Parliament may help equilibrate the balance the powers and provide a potentially more comprehensive review of policy proposals which go through the Parliament’s vote. The next step is for the new parliamentary majority to name their proposed Prime Minister and start consultations with the country’s president Klaus Iohannis to form the new government. President Iohannis has previously voiced his commitment to respect the integrity principle when accepting the nomination for future PM, therefore paving the way for a thorough review of the candidate.
While 2015 may have marked the beginning of a series of changes facing the EU, starting with the UK’s vote to leave the Union and, most recently, the political developments in Italy following the constitutional referendum, national elections in member countries may have consequences rolling over the national borders. Romania has been a EU member country since January 2007 and most political parties seem integrated into the European way of thinking. The socialist party in Romania is part of the socialist block at EU level, having representatives in the European Parliament and Romania seems to enjoy proper working relations with Western countries and policy-makers around the world. The image PSD creates for the country in the following years, along with reforms to boost the country’s economy, may be vital to secure Romania’s EU presidency in 2019.
How may the young generation change the face of politics in Romania?