What to expect from the Romanian parliamentary elections?

Vladimir Mitev (photo: Vladimir Mitev)

The international news and analysis program of the Bulgarian National Television “The World and Us” invited the founder of the Bulgarian-Romanian blog “Bridge of Friendship” Vladimir Mitev to comment on the upcoming December 6th 2020  parliamentary elections in Romania. How the corona crisis affects their outcome, what is their stake and what is their significance in the context of the Bulgarian-Romanian relations were some of the questions that were raised.

The interview was broadcast in Bulgarian on 3th December 2020 here.

Polly Zlatareva: We remain on the Balkans. Romania will hold parliamentary elections on Sunday, December 6, 2020. What will the Romanians decide? And how does this affect us – thr Bulgarians? We will find out in seconds in the analysis of the journalist Vladimir Mitev – editor of the site “Barricade”. For years he has been following in depth the political and social life in Romania.

Hello, Mr. Mitev! Elections during the corona crisis. How has the virus affected Romanian elections and public attitudes? Although inevitable, restrictive measures are not to anyone’s liking …

In November, the daily number of people infected in Romania exceeded 9,000 on many days. This has led to the closure of markets and the transfer of education in schools to the online space. The market measure may have provoked some resentment, as recent opinion polls this week show a few percent reduction of the public approval for the ruling party. However, it remains at the forefront of public preferences. According to various estimates, he should receive between 28% and 33% of the vote.

It is in competition with the Social Democratic Party, which ruled until 2019. The difference between them is a few percents. There is a third major party, the Save Romania Union, which is in an alliance with the party of former EU Commissioner and Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, called Plus. The Save Romania Union is a party of young professionals and somewhat resembles “Yes, Bulgaria” in our country. This party has about 20% public support.

So the future majority in the Romanian parliament and government is likely to be formed by right-wing forces. But it remains to be seen whether a third small partner will be needed, as there are several small parties that are likely to enter parliament.

Mr. Mitev, let us remind our viewers that the Social Democratic Party won the parliamentary elections in 2016, but suffered severely from accusations of corruption. There were mass street protests that we remember were provoked by controversial judicial reforms. Will Romania be able to close the page on political instability in Sunday’s elections?

This is one of the interesting things to follow. Despite the fact that the Social Democrats lost the government in 2019 and another party came to power – a member of the European People’s Party – the National Liberal Party of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, the Social Democratic Party retained its influence in parliament. There have been various controversies throughout the period. Government policy has been hampered in parliament. And the government in this period relies on business, on investments that will be made with European funds. Even President Klaus Iohannis, who is from the same party as Ludovic Orban, said that the old model of growth of the Social Democrats – through higher incomes and more consumption – must be abandoned and must rely on business and investment. And they will come through EU funds.

However, there was some turmoil in relations between Brussels and Bucharest. There was a slight shaking of confidence. Will this change with this election?

This was during the time of the Social Democrats. It is obvious that the National Liberal Party has the support of Brussels. The funds set aside for Romania under the well-known in our country program for recovery and resilience are over 30 billion euros. So there is trust now and there is no doubt about Romania’s loyalty.

We are at the end of the conversation. Please comment quickly on how these elections will affect us in Bulgaria. How do these elections affect us? How will they affect Bulgarian-Romanian relations?

In my opinion, an important problem between Bulgaria and Romania is that the infrastructural connectivity between the countries is weak. Bulgaria is developing in connections with Serbia, Greece and Turkey. But the connections to Romania are progressing very slowly, if at all. If you remember, in the spring of 2019 it was announced that there will be a third bridge over the Danube near Svishtov-Zimnicea. But there is really no movement in that direction. The announcement of this bridge was made during the Social Democrats. Probably, if a clear majority is formed in the parliament now in support of the future government and there is a clear majority in Bulgaria after the spring parliamentary elections, then maybe we will be able to expect some development.

Photo: (Pixabay, CC0)

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