29th May 2022

Two-thirds of Romanians would back conservative-nationalists

  • The populist-nationalist Alliance for the Union of Romanians party has a strong connection with Romania's powerful Orthodox Church, and has repeatedly held rallies against Covid-19 restrictions and wearing face masks (Photo: Wikimedia)

Two-thirds of Romanians say they would support a conservative-nationalist party that promotes religious and traditional values, a survey of the Strategic Thinking Group think-thank shows.

The flipside is that an equal or even greater number of respondents would not support such a party if it advocated for Romania to leave the EU, strengthen ties with Russia, or infringe upon national minorities' rights.

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"61 percent said they wouldn't vote such a party if its agenda would include measures and policies that could lead to Romania exiting the EU.

75 percent would strictly oppose any party that would push for closer relations with Russia. 70 percent stated that they would stop voting for a party which would infringe upon minority rights."

The survey carried out by INSCOP as part of a research project for the German Marshal Fund of the United States aims to measure how Romanians react to series of elements of the Eurosceptic and nationalist agenda.

Remus Ştefureac, president of Strategic Thinking Group, said that the number of those who believe that Romania should defend its national interests when pitted against EU rules has remained constant, hovering at around 64 percent.

He went on to explain that this number was nuanced: "This finding highlights the fact that most Romanians believe that, if the rest of European countries pursue their own national interests, it is legitimate for Romanians to want the same for their country.

"However, there is a clear rational awareness that leaving the EU would affect national interests and that the country's economic development has the best prospects within the Union."

65 percent of those questioned think that Romania's exit from the EU would affect the country's national interests, while only 19 percent of the population think that not being EU citizens would not impact Romania.

From an economic standpoint, the majority of Romanians are optimistic when it comes to EU helping Romania develop.

"62.9 percent appreciated that Romania does better inside the European Union, while 27 percent considered that Romania would develop better economically if it were outside the EU".

However, 82 percent of Romanians thinks that they are being regarded as second class citizens in the EU, the study shows.

Romanians are almost unanimously in support of national minority rights, with over 90 percent of them saying that such rights need to be upheld.

Iulius Marian Firczak, a Romanian MP representing the national minority of Ruthenians, said that the European motto "Unity in diversity" should always prevail.

"There must be cooperation, good understanding between various groups, minorities, identities in a society because that's how we move forward, that's how we build a strong democracy, that's how we all benefit culturally and economically", he told EUobserver.

When it comes to nationalism being translated into votes, a right-wing populist and nationalist party - Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) – is currently the fourth-largest party in the country.

The party rose from obscurity, after being formed in late 2019, and promotes an ultranationalist agenda, proclaiming to stand for "family, nation, faith, and freedom". AUR has a strong connection to Romania's powerful Orthodox Church, and has repeatedly held rallies against Covid-19 restrictions and wearing face masks.

AUR took 10 percent of the vote following last year's general election, taking commentators by surprise, and is now planning to take part in next month's parliamentary elections in neighbouring Moldova.

Author bio

Cristian Gherasim is a freelance journalist contributing to EUobserver, Euronews, EU Reporter, Katoikos, Von Mises Institute, and bne IntelliNews, with a particular focus on European and regional affairs

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