While the low turnout at Sunday’s Romanian parliamentary elections clearly showed the constituents’ disappointment with the current political parties, the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ) has scored yet another victory by assuring its presence in both houses of Parliament for the next four years — or whenever the next election is going to be.
RMDSZ President Hunor Kelemen thanked Hungarian voters for “understanding our message about the stakes and challenges of the election.” He pointed out that coalition talks must be swift, as the country needs a stable government both to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and prepare next year’s budget for which there is very little time left.
Regading the presence in the Romanian legislation of the ultra-nationalist AUR party (the abbreviation, ironically, also means gold in Romanian), Kelemen said “there is no need for such a party in parliament, but we respect the choice of the voters.”
RMDSZ, which ran on a joint list with the smaller Alliance of Transylvanian Hungarians, has again assured its presence in both houses of Parliament despite its limitations — it is, after all, a political party only in the loosest sense of the world. Its representatives have had an uninterrupted presence in parliament since the 1990 regime change and, although always as a minor coalition partner, has de facto had the longest presence in government of all parties.
With over 95 percent of the votes counted, five parties passed the 5 percent parliamentary threshold: The Social Democrats (PSD) has a weight of 29.8 percent in the lower chamber of the Romanian Parliament, followed by the governing National Liberal party (PNL) with 25.5 percent, the reformist and anti-graft USR PLUS alliance with 14.5 percent, the extreme nationalist AUR with 8.7 percent and RMDSZ’s 6 percent.
Given that the two biggest parties have already excluded the possibility of joining forces in government, the figures indicate that for a viable majority, a coalition of at least three or possibly four parties would be required for a parliamentary majority. Marius Ciolacu, leader of the Social Democrats, made it clear after the vote that there will be no alliance with the liberals and he expects liberal Prime Minister Ludovic Orban’s resignation.
Asked about the possibility of President Klaus Iohannis appointing Orban to form the new government — which he can do — Ciolacu said that would be disregarding voters’ opinion.
“God forbid! This would mean that we no longer understand anything about what the Romanians want or what democracy is about,” Ciolacu said.
For his part, Orban, although earlier in the vote count, said that he fully expected his party to be able to form a governing coalition.
The disappointing 31.84 voter turnout, the lowest since 1990, however, showed that Romanians don’t believe in any of the currently available political choices.
“We have to look reality in the eye. The fact that less than a third of Romanians chose to go to the polls today is a slap in the face for the entire old political class,” USR PLUS Mayor of Temesvár Dominic Fritz said. “I think it’s obvious that a large part of Romanians no longer believe that politics can indeed improve something in their lives and that is why it is very clear that the future government must assume a major reform of the Romanian State, a profound reform aimed at rebuilding trust between citizens and public institutions.”
In the last 11 years, Romania has had 10 governments, and in the past five years, five consecutive prime ministers, one of whom is currently serving a sentence for abuse of power.
Title image: RMDSZ President Hunor Kelemen holds a press conference on election night in Kolozsvár. (MTI/Gábor Kiss)