Ponta's party makes a comeback in Romania

The social democratic PSD won Sunday's parliamentary elections in Romania with 46 percent of the vote - just a year after mass protests forced the Ponta government to resign. The national liberal PNL and the newly formed USR party had both endorsed Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș, who has led a technocratic government since 2015. Press voices in Romania and abroad see the election outcome as a sobering result.

Open/close all quotes
Der Standard (AT) /

And in the end it's always the corrupt who win

The election result also shows that the fight against corruption in Romania still has a long way to go, Der Standard observes:

“The PSD actually chose a leading candidate who has been convicted of election fraud - and was successful. True, there are many here who are somewhat disappointed that the corruption investigations are revealing irregularities in practically every party. But behind the election result is a discourse that appeals for people take no notice of what is said abroad and denounces domestic critics for fouling their own nest. That a party or candidate can be successful despite violating the rules has long since become a global phenomenon. But the fact that such violations of the rules were a socially recognised strategy for muddling through daily life in the former communist states doesn't make dealing with this problem any easier.”

Mandiner (HU) /

The Socialists have a long list of sins

Journalist Szilárd Demeter can only shake his head in wonder at the fact that a party that has such a corrupt past has won the election. He comments on Mandiner:

“We should bear in mind that the Romanian socialists are the offspring, so to speak, of Ion Iliescu [president of Romania from December 1989-1996 and 2000-2004]. Under Iliescu not only was the country ruthlessly plundered, but a nationwide network of 'red barons' was set up and corruption became everyday practice. Worse still: common plagiarists were elevated to the rank of head of government. So it's hardly surprising that the current leader of the PSD and the designated prime minister Liviu Dragnea have both been convicted of electoral fraud.”

Radio Europa Liberă (RO) /

Hopefully the EU will watch over Romania

After its surprising electoral victory the PSD will be able to control the state almost completely, Europa Liberă comments:

“But unlike in 1990 when a single parliamentary majority also had an almost complete grip on power, today Romania is in the EU. As a result the country is obliged to respect certain standards - even if the lapses of our Hungarian neighbour tell a different story. But Europe has a Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification (CVM) with which the European Commission can assess how well the local judiciary functions. ... The PSD has control of all the state institutions - from the judiciary to the secret service to the public broadcaster. The question is if it can do what it wants with them and resort to the practices of its earliest days, or if it is mature enough now to allow a certain equilibrium. Experience shows that it's not easy to be optimistic where this party is concerned.”

Hotnews (RO) /

Using the primitive nationalism card

As far as news website Hotnews is concerned the outcome of the election couldn't have been worse:

“The PSD's unscrupulousness ultimately proved profitable. It demonised everything that seemed foreign. Party leader [Liviu] Dragnea and the PSD were able to put a negative stamp on almost all their rivals. … The PSD used the primitive nationalism card and the international context encouraged it in this strategy. From Brexit to Trump, a discourse of building fences is raging. At first we escaped this populist and anti-European wave, but it was just a matter of time before it surged here in Romania too. … The result of this election is a worst-case scenario. Now we can only try to limit the damage and secure essential institutions [like the anti-corruption agency] and maintain Romania's pro-European and pro-Western orientation.”

România Liberă (RO) /

National liberals weren't a proper alternative

The national liberal PNL failed as the PSD's main rival in the election, România Liberă comments:

“If we are looking for the culprits who gave the PSD its best election result ever we needn't bother seeking among the rural population, the 'plebs' who voted for the Mafiosi. Or among the 'hipsters' who didn't go vote at all. The main culprit is the PNL which has been trying to fool us for four years. It formed a grand coalition with the Social Democrats in 2012 that began dismantling the rule of law. And now they are trying to cast themselves as angels and defenders of justice. For years the PNL supported the PSD government led by [Victor] Ponta and now it wants to hide behind [Prime Minister] Dacian Ciolos. … Now the liberals shouldn't get annoyed with the 'dumb people'. You can't offer voters porridge telling them that it's caviar and then get angry because only a few take a bite.”

Adevărul (RO) /

In the end Romanians only care about money

The Romanians like listening to nationalist election campaign speeches but when they vote it is their wallets that are uppermost in their minds, writes Adevârul:

“The people's appetite for nationalist discourse seems to be growing - the more vulgar and coarse, the better. We are governed by external forces, by Brussels, by the US, by [US investor with Hungarian roots] Soros, by the Hungarians, the Freemasons or a secret world order. … Yet the polls show that the party that waves the flag of oppressed Romanianism doesn't win more than three percent of the votes of the patriotic electorate. One explanation is that the Romanians are intelligent and won't be persuaded by empty words. Another is that the Romanians are pragmatic. We like to hear that foreigners are to blame for all our problems but in the end we vote for the party that promises the biggest pensions and the lowest taxes.”

Ziare (RO) /

A superfluous election campaign

A new Romanian electoral law has placed tougher restrictions on party advertising. But it has not improved the quality of the election campaign, journalist Iona Ene Dogioiu comments with annoyance in Ziare:

“It was the final week of the election campaign that I see as particularly superfluous because it did nothing to contribute to people making a more responsible decision in the election. It didn't even encourage citizens to go and vote. It was devoid of important information, of a proper debate and of emotion. In short, it was an utterly useless campaign. To blame for this are not only the parties, but also the new and extremely weak electoral law. I don't know why we have to go from one extreme to the other. In the past there was not a lamppost or tree that wasn't adorned with an election poster. This time the election campaign ended when it was officially supposed to begin. The voter has to find out about the new options in the election from some other source.”