Romania’s recent parliamentary elections have done little to bring about the change needed to address the country’s ongoing political and economic crisis, argues Daniel Brett.
The Romanian elections of 9 December, which took place against a backdrop of economic crisis, austerity, political gamesmanship, polarisation, highly personalised politics, have produced a parliament with four main blocs:
- The Social Liberal Union (USL), principally made up of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the National Liberals (PNL) but also includes the Conservative Party (PC) of businessman Dan Voiculescu and the UNPR, a small social democratic group. The Union won a two-thirds majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, with its seats divided 60/40 in favour of the PSD;
- The main opposition Right Romania Alliance (ARD), which was dominated by President Traian Băsescu’s Party of Democratic Liberals (PDL) but also included Civic Force, the party of former Prime Minister Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu and a faction of National Peasant Party (PNŢ). Following the election the ARD dissolved itself, although many believe that some form of new opposition coalition will emerge before the next.
- The People’s Party of Dan Diaconescu (PPDD), owner of the OTV television channel.
- The Union of Democratic Hungarians (UMDR), the long established party of Romania’s Hungarian minority.
The outcome of the election will do little to address Romania’s chronic economic and political crisis, which has stretched back almost two years. Despite the economic crisis, the elections were not dominated by discussions about what should be done about the economy. The USL promises – primarily increasing pensions and wages, while at the same time securing an IMF loan – remain impossible to fulfil. The whole crisis has been marked by a failure to develop an alternative strategy. The ARD programme was very loose, saying little about economic policies but choosing instead to focus on corruption and threats to democracy to set itself in opposition to the USL. The Alliance also emphasized its closeness to the European Union and the USA and attempted in some senses to de-politicise itself by focussing upon links with NGOs and civil society. (more…)