Friday

4th Dec 2020

Opinion

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 rwolfemurray@internews.eu

Disclaimer

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

EU's opportunity to curb online politics ads

Beyond privacy, the EU should equalise political party access to online ads and improve the oversight of digital campaigning. It can borrow from how governments have curbed big money in politics.

The under-reported power struggle at the top of the OSCE

An internal power struggle has undermined the world's leading international security body since the summer. The OSCE is due to finally get new leaders in December but the unprecedented power vacuum has hit at a crunch time for hotspots worldwide.

News in Brief

  1. Greek island to get new EU-backed migration camp
  2. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing dies from Covid-19 complications
  3. Belgium denied residency permits to 15,000 EU nationals
  4. Centre-right EU lawmakers want to kick out Fidesz MEP
  5. Slovak journalist's killer gets longer sentence
  6. Egyptian leader embarks on 'execution spree'
  7. Covid-19: UK first to approve Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
  8. Car kills five people in German town's pedestrian zone

The human cost of whistleblowing

The fate of Jonathan Taylor, a British whistleblower stuck in legal limbo in Croatia, is a test of European laws designed to protect those who put themselves at risk for the common good.

EU vs US tech agenda under Biden

What will the new Joe Biden administration bring to the realm of digital policy, and how will it affect the relationship with the EU?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  3. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  5. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja

Latest News

  1. EU keen to repair damage of Trump years
  2. Szájer 'sex party' coverage shows Orbán's media control
  3. EU Commission mulls ways round Hungary-Poland block
  4. Revealed: Hit to EU mental health services during Covid-19
  5. MEPs seek parliament inquiry into Frontex
  6. Erdoğan to face human rights scrutiny next week, EU says
  7. 2020 Prague European Summit: 'Real solutions, acting together'
  8. Nationwide protests reveal awakening of Poland's youth

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us