Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Municipal elections in Romania: a flop?

June 13th, 2012

A right wing journalist believes the Romanian elections turned out much as expected: voters punished the former governing coalition for going along with the dictates of the IMF.  A left wing daily, on the other hand, publishes a commentary with the title “RMDSZ-Fidesz 3:0”, suggesting that the engagement of Fidesz on behalf of two small ethnic Hungarian parties backfired.

The main Hungarian Party in Romania (RMDSZ/ UDMR  – Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania) faired relatively well at Sunday’s municipal elections, winning more mayor’s seats than it held before. Its two challengers – both supported by Fidesz before and during the election period – got about 20 per cent of the Hungarian vote between them. The decision by House Speaker and Fidesz veteran László Kövér to support the re-burial of a controversial pre-war Transylvanian novelist, was seen as an attempt to boost the chances of the Hungarian Civic Party, MPP. Other Fidesz luminaries campaigned for the Transylvanian People’s Party, EMN (See BudaPost, June 7).

In an editorial in Magyar Nemzet, István Pataky notes that all major towns except three were won by the Social Liberal Party, which recently took over the national government. The new first-past-the-post system means that opposition forces will not have much say in the affairs of the country. He attributes the relative success of the RMDSZ to voter apathy and the fact that the new Tőkés-led People’s Party (EMN) had to compete for right-wing votes with the MPP.  Although the RMDSZ, whose political credo is “hatred for Orbán” cannot claim victory, they may rejoice in the fact that the leader of the MPP lost the mayoral race in his own town, Pataky writes. Looking ahead to the parliamentary elections scheduled for November, Pataky thinks things do not look good for Hungarian ethnic parties, although some “charismatic” leaders may win over voters.

In Népszava Mária Gál writes that the Romanian election result shows that Fidesz cannot influence ethnic Hungarian voters in Romania. Despite “pumping money into Democracy Centres” (a Tőkés-controlled network of offices in Romania), and calling the Romanian government “barbarians”, MPP and Tőkés could only get half a per cent of the vote. (Roughly 10 per cent of the Hungarian vote. The adjective ‘barbarian’ was used by House Speaker László Kövér to describe the zeal of the authorities searching cars to get hold of Nyírő’s ashes.)   The situation is dire, nonetheless, warns the left-wing commentator. The campaign showed that “Fidesz puppets” will stop at nothing, and don’t even shrink from endangering the potential performance of the leading Hungarian ethnic party, the RMDSZ. Even the half per cent cast for the other Hungarian candidates could contribute to the loss of mayoral and other positions in major settlements in Transylvania. Eventually, ethnic Hungarian representation in Romanian politics might end up on the political fringe, a development no Hungarian government can be happy about.

Tags: , , ,