Romania: nationalists on the advance

Founded in 2019, the right-wing nationalist Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) is on the verge of becoming the second-strongest political force in the country, according to polls. Even if the party lacks a coherent programme its voter potential should not be underestimated, commentators warn.

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Newsweek România (RO) /

The right gives hope to the marginalised

It would be dangerous to underestimate the party, Newsweek România points out:

“There is only one explanation for the rise of [AUR's co-chairman] George Simion: he is the only one who at this moment gives a little hope to part of the population - a part that feels left behind and betrayed by the state, the government, the parliament. That is tired of the pandemic and tired of working abroad - far from friends and family. As long as no convincing personality with democratic values emerges on the political scene, it will be plain sailing for Simion right through to [the next parliamentary elections in] 2024.”

Revista 22 (RO) /

Telling the disappointed what they want to hear

AUR's political discourse is not based on any strict narrative, historian Mădălin Hodor points out in Revista 22:

“The party's leaders have no problem condemning communism in the same sentence that they refer to Romania as 'a country that was once a great power' out of sheer Ceaușescu nostalgia. What makes [co-chairman George] Simion and the others a real danger is their shameless and unbridled nationalism. AUR has absolutely no political programme. All it offers is platitudes and slogans. It's basic strategy is to tell everyone what they want to hear - and promise everything under the sun.”

Adevărul (RO) /

The Church is the most powerful backer

Adevărul suspects that a large number of AUR voters also supported the 2018 failed referendum against gay marriage:

“It's no wonder that of the 3.5 million Romanians who voted 'yes' in the referendum, at least one seventh of the population, or half a million voters, cast their ballot for AUR [in the 2020 parliamentary elections]. And if you call that a miracle, remember that it was - what a surprise - performed by the institution that specialises in miracles: the Church. Those who ignore the fact that the Church is not the only factor in AUR's growth, but by far the most important, most powerful and most difficult to combat risk a repeat of what happened in 2020 in 2024: being left speechless by a miracle.”