Wind of change after Romania's local elections?

The Social Democrats have scored gains in Romania's local elections. The new party Save Bucharest Union came in second in the capital. Some commentators are annoyed at the number of people who didn't go out to vote, while others are delighted that an anti-corruption party has made it into the limelight.

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Revista 22 (RO) /

An important victory for civil society

The weekly paper Revista 22 sees the plans of the Save Bucharest Union civil rights movement (USB) to run in the parliamentary election in November as a good idea in principle:

“The strongest message from Bucharest's local election is the victory of Nicușor Dan [the leader of the Save Bucharest Union] and his fight against the political establishment. Since the fire tragedy at the Colectiv nightclub the USB has been able to gain support with its rejection of the political parties. It now has a significant number of city councillors [making up almost a quarter of the city council] and thus a strong voice in the capital. That is important but not enough for a parliamentary election. You can't build a new national level party, as the Save Romania Union wants to be, within the six months that remain until the parliamentary election. Nonetheless the election victory in Bucharest is a good starting point. It is an important victory for civil society after so many years.”

România Liberă (RO) /

Indignant voters prefer to stay at home

Voter turnout was just 48 percent. România Liberă is annoyed that so many citizens didn't vote:

“Not even the fire tragedy at the [Bucharest nightclub] Colectiv has managed to change our attitude. And so we're left in the role of indignant onlookers who make themselves comfortable at the window and comment loudly on all the tragedies without doing anything to change things. But nothing will change on its own. ... If the fate of a community - and of an entire generation - depends on the vote of every individual, people's outrage must get them off their couches and into the polling booths. The fact that this has not happened shows that we have not matured into a democratic society. ... Most incumbent mayors and councillors won their seats as a result of voters staying at home. The party of non-voters is the biggest in the country. It lost the elections with which we could have restored at least a little balance in our society.”

Hotnews (RO) /

A vote against anti-corruption efforts

The results of the Romanian local elections are worrying, new website Hotnews finds:

“It is an alarming sign that the public doesn't want to hear anything more about the fight against corruption. It is not a failure on the part of the anti-corruption agency DNA, as some politicians are trying to portray it. The institution is trusted. In any case the people elected candidates who are suspected of corruption, who are in custody or are already on trial. They voted for a party whose leader has been convicted by a penal court. These are difficult times in which the anti-corruption discourse is losing its power of attraction. This will encourage politicians to take more vigorous action against the judiciary at least in parliament.”

Hotnews (RO) /

Elections at least as important as shoes

Most young people in Romania have no interest in elections whatsoever, journalist Cristian Pantazi writes in Hotnews, adding a message for this group:

“The interest in Converse shoes, skinny jeans and colourful headphones competes with tedium among young people. A growing number of young, intelligent and enlightened Romanians are completely indifferent to elections. This attitude of boredom, this contempt for politicians has taken firm hold. ... It's comfortable, it's in fashion, it gets you lots of likes on Facebook. ... But such a bored attitude comes at a price. In fact it's very expensive. It costs us our lives and our professional development. ... What do you lose if you don't go out and vote? It's just like when you buy a pair of Converse shoes: you'll only know which model is best for you once you've bought it. A decision that you don't make is the worst decision of all.”

Contributors (RO) /

A vote on the reform process

Although these elections seem boring they will determine whether Romania continues with reform or comes to a standstill, Contributors stresses:

“The political debates among the candidates are boring and reminiscent of those in communist times. The candidates are diligently pronouncing election manifestos and shared prosperity. … But looking beyond this mediocrity June 5 is a crucial day, because whether the oligarchs will continue to rule the country depends on the state's ability to push through reforms. … It's clear that the new law, which foresees only one round of voting, favours those who don't want reform or transparency: the [social democratic party] PSD, the only party that is strong enough to win.”