29th Sep 2021


Romania struggles to find enthusiasm for European parliament election

  • The European Parliament - not so tempting in Romania (Photo: European Parliament)

Romania will have an election for the European Parliament (EP) later this autumn but not only are there few candidates prepared to stand, a lot of the population seems to be unaware of the election.

As part of their EU accession obligations, both Bulgaria and Romania must hold EP elections this year. Bulgaria did so in March and the Romanian election will take place on 26 November.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It can be assumed that very few EU citizens are aware of this election, but it is surprising how uninformed the Romanian public are; how few even know about this election - which is only two months away - and how little debate there is in the media. This is despite the fact that a big majority of Romanians were strongly in favour of EU accession.

The most curious thing about this election is how Romanian political parties seem to be facing real difficulties in finding candidates who are willing to stand, as well as the absence of any kind of election campaign.

None of Romania's main political parties have come up with a finalised list of candidates, and many "names" drop out as soon as they are announced.

To put this into context, Romanian elections are usually a frenzy of lively televised debates; floods of posters, leaflets, ads and volunteers in T-shirts; hurried visits to the villages with bags of flour and promises to peasants - and epic struggles within the parties to get onto the official list of candidates.

These difficulties with finding candidates - an issue that could have been resolved months ago - is about the only "news story" that the Romanian media can publish on this issue. The usual plethora of issues surrounding an election are simply not forthcoming.

Of the numerous candidates that have been discussed and trumpeted in the Romanian media, three stand out: Vasile Danca, a respected sociologist from Cluj, current MEP in the socialist group and former minister of information; Mihai Ungureanu, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Nadia Comaneci, winner of the gold medal in gymnastics at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

All three were announced by the media as being promising European parliament candidates - and all three subsequently withdrew their names.

Judging by the tone of the statements being reported by the Romanian press, this search for EP candidates is unwelcome work. It is becoming clear that politicians in Romania feel unwilling to depart from the epicentre of Romanian politics - Bucharest - despite the attractive salary that a euro-deputy commands. Going to Brussels seems not to be considered an appropriate route up the political ladder.

According to Mihail Virtosu, co-founder of the International Advertisers Association in Romania, this European Parliament election is "a unique opportunity for Romania's political parties to put aside their internal political fights and approach the European agenda. This is the moment that society has been waiting for."

But it seems certain that this approach will result in a low turnout at the election, perhaps even as low as Slovakia where only 17% of the population went to vote in 2004.

Krzysztof Bobinski, a candidate during the 2004 European election in Poland, says that it was only the extremist parties that were able to really motivate people to vote in his country.

"Poland's example shows that a low turnout in the European elections means that a country is represented by a large number of extremist politicians and this is not good for its image. The main thing is that as many people as possible take part in these elections."

The author is an advisor to The National Audiovisual Council of Romania and is organising a conference on the Media and the EP election in Romania. He can be contacted on


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Afghan withdrawal may spark ex-forces terrorism in Europe

Right-wing extremist narratives thrive on the US's swift withdrawal from Afghanistan. They may gain traction particularly among soldiers and veterans of Western armed forces, some of which have in the past been confronted with right-wing radicalisation among their troops.

Why Draghi could be a two-term prime-minister

Brussels is feeling the Mario Draghi effect, too. After the German elections, this former president of the European Central Bank will become the European Council's most institutionally-experienced member.

Sexism and the selection of the European Parliament president

Looking at the historical record, a clear picture emerges: the president of the European Parliament is an above-middle aged white man, most likely German — and with an overwhelming likelyhood to be conservative or socialist.

The EU's 'backyard' is not in the Indo-Pacific

Europe is no longer an Indo-Pacific power. It will not become an Indo-Pacific power. And if it keeps overreaching its geopolitical ambitions, Europe might lose its credibility as a power - entirely.


Long ago, there was another Angela Merkel

There is one female leader in European history whom Merkel resembles much more than the fiery, authoritarian Catherine the Great, who once staged a coup with her lover against her husband. Instead, it is the Habsburg empress Maria-Theresia.

The first anniversary of the Abraham Accords

More than 55 agreements between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain are currently underway. These lay the foundation for practical cooperation in almost all fields including: finance, communications, economy, culture, tourism, taxation, investment protection, freedom of movement, water, agriculture and energy.

News in Brief

  1. Navalny to get EU human-rights prize
  2. Nato patrols Kosovo-Serbia border as tensions soar
  3. EU lorry drivers will not help UK
  4. Dutch PM gets extra security on bike commute to work
  5. Berliners vote to expropriate corporate landlord apartments
  6. Polish minister calls for border state-of-emergency extension
  7. More Polish regions bin anti-gay declarations
  8. Russia bypasses Ukraine to ship EU gas via Turkey

Russia's biggest enemy? Its own economy

Russia's leaders have been fully aware of the reasons for its underlying economic weakness for more than two decades. Dependency on energy exports and the lack of technological innovation were themes of Vladimir Putin's first state-of-the-nation address back in 2000.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Panama to stay on EU tax-haven blacklist
  2. Moldova to EU: Help us go after fugitives
  3. Election means three-party German government likely
  4. Lagarde urges EU to use market power to fix gas price
  5. MEPs 'disappointed' at observer-status at new EU health body
  6. An economist on 'elephant-in-room' at German election
  7. Afghan withdrawal may spark ex-forces terrorism in Europe
  8. Book Club: The Last Bluff

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us