Where does Romania stand after gay marriage vote?

In Romania a referendum aimed at having marriage defined as a union exclusively between a man and a woman in the country's constitution failed on the weekend. For the vote to be valid at least 30 percent of those entitled to vote would have had to participate, but the turnout was only around 21 percent. Commentators continue their lively debate on the lessons to be learned from the vote.

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Digi 24 (RO) /

Church and ruling party to blame

Digi 24 explains what it thinks the ruling PSD party, its leader Liviu Dragnea and also the Orthodox Church did wrong:

“Dragnea believed that the Orthodox Church would bring the people to the ballot boxes and that he would be able to brag about a successful referendum. ... That's why he didn't spend any money on making sure that enough votes were bought. That was also the conclusion arrived at by the Orthodox Church, whose spokesman has now explained that the main reason for the failure was that 'the whole event was politicised and the referendum associated with Liviu Dragnea'. What the spokesman didn't say was that the representatives of the Church had also counted on the PSD being able to push people to vote.”

Delo (SI) /

Millenials not interested in regression

Journalist Gašper Završnik is delighted that the referendum has failed, and writes in Delo that Romania is embracing modernity:

“Eastern Europe has put much effort into catching up with the West in economic terms, but it still has a long way to go regarding the respect for minorities. Political and social actors should also bear that in mind when they talk about the brain drain. A section of the millenials, the representatives of the Erasmus generation who have experienced the free-thinking ways in London, Berlin, Madrid and Amsterdam, are not at all interested in putting down roots in a backward swamp.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

EU must not force its values on Eastern Europe

The EU must avoid interfering in social policy issues - for example gay marriage - in Eastern Europe, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung warns:

“In the late 1990s the old EU states assumed, with their cultural imperial arrogance, that along with the market economy and democracy they were also exporting a certain view of mankind. The end of the story seemed to have arrived, and all the world spirit had to do was firmly anchor liberal values in the East, too. That didn't work - and it no longer even works in the West. ... The acquis communautaire forms the backbone of European law, and Brussels must oversee it. But that still leaves plenty of room for social policy decisions on values. And the Eastern Europeans must be able to take these on their own.”

Pravda (SK) /

Homosexuals now even more under attack

Commenting on the referendum Pravda talks of a cultural war in Central Eastern Europe:

“In this war the traditional family has become the main theme and bizarre coalition are forming that contradict all ideological teachings. As in 2015 in Slovakia the referendum in Romania has failed due to low turnout. Although the religious fanatics haven't achieved their main goal the aggressive campaign has intensified the hatred of homosexuals. And if we look at the map of Europe we see that the 'homophobe islands' are only to be found in the east of the EU.”

Gândul (RO) /

All the things the money could have been spent on

At the end of this vote that cost taxpayers 35 million euros everyone has lost out, author Vartan Arachelian writes on website Gândul:

“The money wasted on the referendum could have been better spent on other things. It could have been used to modernise Romania: to help children who go to bed without supper; to finance hospitals whose construction is being postponed because the money is spent on the changing moods of the government and administration instead. But the losses are not just limited to money! They extend to how we have to live: ... with people who are afraid of the apocalypse, of a coalition of corrupt politicians and (non) servers of the Church who instead of propagating Christian charity fuel hatred. In this way we all lose.”

România Liberă (RO) /

Parties left citizens in the lurch

România Liberă believes that the parties didn't really want the referendum to succeed:

“If they had, we would have seen mobilisation on a massive scale. But on the first day less than six percent of those entitled to vote participated - in a referendum which is supposedly supported by 80 percent of the parties. ... If [PSD chief Liviu] Dragnea could have benefited in some way from this vote we would have seen it achieve the necessary quorum on the first day, whereby the critics would have started complaining about mass fraud attempts. ... So the referendum remains what it always was: a popular issue that was sabotaged by all the politicians.”

Mérce (HU) /

A defeat for the Romanian Orthodox Church

The failure of the referendum is mainly a defeat for the Romanian Orthodox Church, Mérce explains:

“In addition to the initiators of the referendum - the 'Coalition for the Family', which has led a campaign against homosexuals in recent times ('If you don't go to vote two men will take your child from you') - the Romanian Orthodox Church is the biggest loser. It put all its eggs in one basket to put a halt to its loss of importance over the last few years and to prove that it still wields influence over Romanian society. ... The Church actively promoted the constitutional amendment and Orthodox clergy even resorted to blackmail. For example a priest threatened on Facebook to exclude those who didn't vote in the referendum from communion.”

Ziare (RO) /

Russian roulette

News website Ziare suspects that there was external interference in the referendum:

“Anyone who follows the Kremlin's policies against the EU and the US will immediately see that this referendum was part of a strategy to pitch the people against each other, above all over unimportant issues that pack an emotional punch and can polarise society. ... It was shocking to see how many intelligent people fell into the trap cleverly set by the Russian representatives active here in Romania. And it was even more shocking to see how [PSD leader] Liviu Dragnea and [ALDE chief] Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu were ready to play Russian roulette with our nation's fate merely to solve their own personal problems.”