The center-right National Liberal Party, known by its Romanian acronym PNL, appears set to become the top vote-getter(AP)
The center-right National Liberal Party, known by its Romanian acronym PNL, appears set to become the top vote-getter(AP)

Romanian election expected to usher in ‘European’ generation

According to most pre-election polls, the weekend vote is likely to favor reform-oriented politicians united in their resolve to keep Romania in step with the EU mainstream and away from the camp of other post-communist nations, such as Hungary and Poland, with their populist, euroskeptic leaders
By Associated Press | Posted by Ayshee Bhaduri | Bucharest
PUBLISHED ON DEC 05, 2020 05:25 PM IST

Romanians will vote Sunday in a legislative election expected to restore some measure of stability in a country with one of the European Union’s highest emigration rates, and bring to power a generation that came of age in a time of national turmoil and strongly identifies as European Union(EU).

Cabinet shakeups and no-confidence votes have given Romania five prime ministers in as many years. According to most pre-election polls, the weekend vote is likely to favor reform-oriented politicians united in their resolve to keep Romania in step with the EU mainstream and away from the camp of other post-communist nations, such as Hungary and Poland, with their populist, euroskeptic leaders.

The center-right National Liberal Party, known by its Romanian acronym PNL, appears set to become the top vote-getter. But the mainstay party of Romania’s EU-aligned, austerity-prone social conservatives is expected to fall far short of a parliamentary majority.

Its main rival, the left-leaning, Populist Social Democratic Party, or PSD in Romanian, won the last election in 2016 and ran through three prime ministers before PNL first took the reins of a minority government a year ago. The PSD-led government had drawn heavy criticism from the EU for its interference with the judiciary and a cascade of corruption scandals involving some of its most prominent members.

The Social Democrats’ chaotic tenure triggered two years of massive street protests that gave voice to a new generation of relatively young, foreign-educated and proudly European politicians who point to widespread graft and fraud in Romanian government ministries and state institutions. Some of them now are running for seats in parliament.

“There are many state institutions under political control which function really badly, and the problems there need to be exposed,” said Valeriu Nicolae, a human rights activist who is running as an independent candidate. “MPs never tackled these issues because everyone has an interest in these state institutions. They either have relatives working there, friends or party members, and it’s not nice to expose your friends.”

Nicolae is an initiator of the RESPECT anti-racism campaign in football, launched at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, one of the most visible campaigns of this sort in the world, and says that in the past he was “treated horribly (for) being Roma” in Romania.

He said he decided to run after witnessing what he considered to be a weak effort to prevent “a man accused of horrible things and a very dubious person” winning a district mayor’s election in the capital, Bucharest. In one week, Nicolae collected 13,000 qualifying signatures, 3,500 more than he needed to get on Sunday’s ballot.

“I am convinced that (change) is possible,” he said. “I am not bound by an interest to protect my political career. My life quality will suffer if I get into parliament.”

A more organized new force is USR-PLUS, a mix of pro-EU technocrats, and social-justice, and anti-corruption activists that coalesced last year into a progressive political alliance. Polls predict the alliance, whose members hold divergent views on many cultural issues, will get around 20% of Sunday’s vote for both chambers of parliament.

That’s the same share forecast for the PSD, which has dominated Romanian politics since the fall of communism in 1989.

The alliance has targeted young and disillusioned voters, including with pledges to depoliticize and fully reform Romania’s civil service and eradicate corruption. It has also promised to eliminate income tax for minimum-wage workers and create well-paying jobs to lure back young, highly educated Romanians who have been leaving in droves since the country joined the EU in 2007.

“It’s good to see a new generation of leaders who understand the needs of our society and are professionally and personally fit to meet them,” said Dacian Ciolos, who represents Romania in the European Parliament and is one of the progressive alliance’s top leaders. “It puts pressure on us, as a new political entity, because we have to meet higher expectations.”

The alliance has pledged not to be part of a parliamentary majority that would include the PSD, which has accused prominent USR-PLUS members of being part of a dark anti-Romanian conspiracy linked to Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, a favorite bogeyman of Central European populists. At the same time, USR-PLUS has indicated it has no intention of playing second fiddle to the PNL in a future coalition government.

Some analysts predict the USR-PLUS alliance will try to assert itself in a future governing coalition by demanding a reconfiguration of the government and the prime minister’s job for Ciolos, 51. He served a stint at the helm of Romania’s first, short-lived technocratic government several years ago.

It would be a bitter pill for the PNL, but one it might be forced to swallow if it wants to preserve its image as a party driven by a genuine desire to rid Romania of a corruptive welfare state model, which it blames on PSD’s decades-long dominance. Most analysts think the conservative PNL and the progressive alliance will find a compromise.

“It’s in their best interest to govern together despite their (ideological and economic) differences which are incomprehensible to most of their supporters,” political analyst Andrei Taranu said.

Romania was plagued by widespread poverty before the coronavirus pandemic, with over 25% of the population of 19 million living on less than $5.50 a day. The pandemic has exacerbated structural problems, including the near collapse of the public health care system.

To date, the EU’s seventh-most populous country has confirmed over a half-million virus cases and more than 12,000 deaths. As a result of the pandemic and virus containment measures, Romania’s fiscal deficit is expected to widen this year to around 9% of gross domestic product, compared with 4.3% in 2019.

Nicolae, who himself grew up in poverty, has dedicated his life to helping vulnerable children escape a life of misery and drug-abuse, and giving them access to education.

“Although I say all the time ‘I’m a gypsy I’m a gypsy,’ people no longer register me like that” he said. ”That I, a Romanian Roma, ran as an independent and I managed to gather the necessary signatures, is a very good signal. And if I win, it would be a great signal.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Just 22% of respondents said their organizations had the technologies they needed before the pandemic, 42% said they developed them out of necessity during the crisis.(Bloomberg)
Just 22% of respondents said their organizations had the technologies they needed before the pandemic, 42% said they developed them out of necessity during the crisis.(Bloomberg)

Third of staff may work from home permanently post-virus

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:07 PM IST
The survey of more than 2,000 managers and public-sector business leaders worldwide highlights how investments that allow home-working will be increasingly important.
Close
Donald Trump did not attend President Joe Biden's inauguration in the US Capitol.(Twitter / @DWUhlfelderLaw)
Donald Trump did not attend President Joe Biden's inauguration in the US Capitol.(Twitter / @DWUhlfelderLaw)

'Worst President ever' banner flew near Trump's resort in Florida

ANI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:00 PM IST
Trump's presidency officially ended last week after four years in the Oval Office, he returned to Florida from Washington on Wednesday.
Close
A Green Card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to immigrants to the US as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently.(Reuters)
A Green Card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to immigrants to the US as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently.(Reuters)

Receipt notice of Form I-90 will extend green card’s validity in US by 12 months

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 04:43 PM IST
The lawful permanent residents with green cards are required to submit a Form I-90 when their permanent resident cards expire or are about to expire.
Close
Australian of the Year winner Grace Tame raises her award during a ceremony in Canberra, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Tame, 26, pushed for legal changes so she could speak out about being a survivor of the sexual abuse she went through as a 15-year-old at the hands of a math teacher. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)(AP)
Australian of the Year winner Grace Tame raises her award during a ceremony in Canberra, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Tame, 26, pushed for legal changes so she could speak out about being a survivor of the sexual abuse she went through as a 15-year-old at the hands of a math teacher. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)(AP)

Sexual abuse survivor Grace Tame named Australian of the Year

AP, Canberra
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 04:34 PM IST
Tame pushed for legal changes so she could speak out about being a survivor of the sexual abuse she went through as a 15-year-old at the hands of a math teacher.
Close
The carrier group entered the South China Sea at the same time as Chinese-claimed Taiwan reported incursions by Chinese air force jets.(AP)
The carrier group entered the South China Sea at the same time as Chinese-claimed Taiwan reported incursions by Chinese air force jets.(AP)

China says US military in South China Sea not good for peace

Reuters, Beijing
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 04:19 PM IST
China has repeatedly complained about US Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea.
Close
Ever since his partial victory in the Senate last week, Conte has appealed to centrist and unaligned Senate lawmakers to join government ranks, but few have responded so far.(REUTERS)
Ever since his partial victory in the Senate last week, Conte has appealed to centrist and unaligned Senate lawmakers to join government ranks, but few have responded so far.(REUTERS)

Italian PM Conte seeks way out of political mire ahead of Senate vote

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 04:17 PM IST
Several Italian newspapers reported that Conte was set to hand in his resignation to the head of state this week and then try to put together a new, broader coalition, drawing up a policy pact for the remaining two years of the legislature.
Close
President Joe Biden waves as he departs after attending Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church.(AP)
President Joe Biden waves as he departs after attending Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church.(AP)

Biden pushes elusive 'Buy American' goal with new federal contract guidelines

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 04:01 PM IST
The move is part of Biden's broader push to drive up wages, create more union jobs and strengthen US supply chains.
Close
The US State Department responded urged Beijing “to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure.(Reuters file photo)
The US State Department responded urged Beijing “to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure.(Reuters file photo)

China tests Biden’s resolve on strategic flash point of Taiwan

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 03:48 PM IST
The sortie by eight Xian H-6K bombers and five other planes Saturday was the third-largest such incursion by PLA aircraft.
Close
A rare lightning storm crackles over Mitchell's Cove in early morning in Santa Cruz, Calif. The severe storm system rolled through the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas in August, packing a combination of dry lightning and high winds that triggered wildfires throughout the region.(AP)
A rare lightning storm crackles over Mitchell's Cove in early morning in Santa Cruz, Calif. The severe storm system rolled through the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas in August, packing a combination of dry lightning and high winds that triggered wildfires throughout the region.(AP)

Storm Eloise kills at least 12 in south-eastern Africa with more rain to come

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 03:46 PM IST
A tropical cyclone when it made landfall at Mozambique's central province of Sofala on Saturday, Eloise subsequently weakened to a tropical storm as it moved inland to dump rain on Zimbabwe, eSwatini - formerly known as Swaziland - South Africa and Botswana.
Close
Critics also say Suga took too long to pause a domestic tourism campaign that experts have blamed for contributing to the spread of the virus beyond the initial hotspots in the Tokyo region.(REUTERS)
Critics also say Suga took too long to pause a domestic tourism campaign that experts have blamed for contributing to the spread of the virus beyond the initial hotspots in the Tokyo region.(REUTERS)

Japanese PM faces mounting pressure over pandemic response

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 03:36 PM IST
Opposition lawmakers were also increasingly frustrated with Suga's taciturn leadership style, demanding he provide detailed answers to questions about the Covid-19 crisis and the Tokyo Olympics set to start in less than six months.
Close
A vial and syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo.(Reuters)
A vial and syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo.(Reuters)

EU seeks answers from AstraZeneca on cut to vaccine supplies in Monday meeting

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 03:30 PM IST
AstraZeneca told the EU on Friday that it could not meet the agreed supply targets running up to the end of March, with an EU official telling Reuters that meant a 60% cut to 31 million doses.
Close
This photo taken on January 20, 2021 shows members of a rescue team working at the site of a gold mine explosion where 22 miners are trapped underground in Qixia, in eastern China's Shandong province. (Photo by STR / various sources / AFP) / China OUT(AFP)
This photo taken on January 20, 2021 shows members of a rescue team working at the site of a gold mine explosion where 22 miners are trapped underground in Qixia, in eastern China's Shandong province. (Photo by STR / various sources / AFP) / China OUT(AFP)

Chinese officials say nine more trapped miners confirmed dead, one still missing

AFP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 03:29 PM IST
A group of 22 miners were trapped hundreds of metres underground by an explosion at the Hushan mine in eastern Shandong province, China on January 10.
Close
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis(Reuters photo)
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis(Reuters photo)

Turkey, Greece resume talks on maritime disputes after five years

Reuters
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2021 03:26 PM IST
Plans for resuming discussions foundered last year over Turkey's deployment of a survey vessel in contested Mediterranean waters and disagreements over which topics to cover.
Close
Thailand's food and drug administration last week approved AstraZeneca's vaccine for emergency use but has yet to grant authorisation for that of Sinovac Biotech, of which Thailand has ordered two million doses.(REUTERS)
Thailand's food and drug administration last week approved AstraZeneca's vaccine for emergency use but has yet to grant authorisation for that of Sinovac Biotech, of which Thailand has ordered two million doses.(REUTERS)

Thailand to begin Covid-19 vaccinations from next month

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 03:18 PM IST
Health workers in Samut Sakhon province, the epicentre of the latest outbreak, would be the first to be inoculated, then elderly and people with chronic diseases.
Close
Iran, which has not commented on the seizure, has been accused of concealing the destination of its oil sales by disabling tracking systems on its tankers, making it difficult to assess how much crude Tehran exports as it seeks to counter US sanctions. (Representative Image)(AP)
Iran, which has not commented on the seizure, has been accused of concealing the destination of its oil sales by disabling tracking systems on its tankers, making it difficult to assess how much crude Tehran exports as it seeks to counter US sanctions. (Representative Image)(AP)

Indonesia seizes Iran, Panama-flagged tankers over alleged illegal oil transfer

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 03:11 PM IST
Coast guard spokesman Wisnu Pramandita said the tankers, seized in waters off Kalimantan province, will be escorted to Batam island in Riau Island Province for further investigation.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP