Internal Affairs

The European Parliament Elections took place on Sunday, May 26. The vote was higher than anticipated in sociological research prior to the vote, with 49.02% of Romanians expressing their option (compared with 39.42% at the legislative elections in 2016). The vote was marked by controversies as many Romanians from abroad were unable to vote, the turnout in the diaspora being a record one. At the same time, on May 26th, Romanians also voted on the referendum on justice organized by Klaus Iohannis and endorsed by PNL. The referendum was validated, a turnout of 41.21% being registered (over the needed threshold of 30%). The referendum has successfully channeled the electoral debate on Justice issues, triggering a very good mobilization of the opposition parties’ electorate. Klaus Iohannis has consolidated also his public profile before this year presidential race.

According to the interim results announced by the Central Electoral Bureau (and based on data from 97% of the polling stations), the National Liberal Party (PNL) would rank first, with 26.23%, followed by the Social Democrat Party (PSD), with 23.68% and the 2020 Alliance (USR+PLUS) 20.51%. The Pro Romania Party with 7.01%, the National Union of Hungarians from Romania (UDMR) with 6.07% and the Popular Movement Party (PMP) with 5.55% would also enter the EP, while the junior government party, ALDE, would likely not enter the EP as it currently stands at 4.24%. The votes received by the parties which will not enter the EP will be redistributed to the ones that will be represented in the EP.

The high turnout of the Romanians favored the main opposition parties, which have registered a good electoral performance while leading at the same time to a poor result of the governmental parties. Even if the latter ones still hold the parliamentary majority, they have lost their political legitimacy. The National Liberal Party, which would top the results, and the 2020 Alliance (USR+PLUS), which would pass successfully its first electoral test, are the main winners of the EP elections.

Internal tensions are likely to erupt within the governing parties. On Monday, a panel of five judges from the High Court of Cassation and Justice is expected to announce its decision in the case in which PSD leader, Liviu Dragnea, was sentenced by the first court to serve a 3 years and 6 months term in prison. His eventual final condemnation will accelerate the internal struggle for power in the social-democrat party. If he is acquitted or if the judges decide the trial should be resumed from the beginning, Liviu Dragnea would have difficulty in maintaining control over PSD amid the poor performance registered in the elections and he may be forced to give up the leadership of the party. Changes will take place in the PSD leadership following its poor electoral performance. Political pressure is likely to increase in the coming days to dismiss the Government. The emergence of internal tensions within the Social Democratic Party and both political and public pressure for the dismissal of the government will affect the stability of the current governmental formula. A new period of political and governmental unpredictability will take place in the following weeks. Ecaterina Andronescu, Marian Oprișan as well as the PSD mayor of Brăila, have already asked for Liviu Dragnea’s resignation based on the poor results, especially those in the Romanian Diaspora.

As for ALDE, failure to accede to the European Parliament is a major loss, which affects the chances of the party’ president, Calin Popescu Tăriceanu, to position as a solid candidate for this year presidential elections. ALDE may choose to distance itself from PSD, either by adopting a more independent governing agenda, either by contributing to the founding of an alternative parliamentary majority (less likely, but not impossible).

International Affairs

Between 23-26 May, the citizens of the 28 Member States of the European Union have elected their representatives in the European Parliament. According to centralized estimates at the European Parliament (EN), the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP) would have about 23.7% of the total number of seats, followed by the Progressist Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, with 20.2%, and the Liberal and Democrats (ALDE) group by 14.4%, the other groups would  have levels below 10%. The distribution of votes at EU level indicates that the European People’s Party will remain the main political formation at European level. In order to form a parliamentary majority, EPP will need to form a broad political alliance. It is worth mentioning in this context that EPP and S&D will not hold together over 50% of the votes for the first time since the vote for the European Parliament was introduced, back in 1979.

As mentioned in the previous analysis, Manfred Weber, EPP candidate for the European Commission’ presidency, will have the first chance to head the European Executive. The name of the new president and of the appointment of the new President of the European Commission and his marriages will depend on the outcome of the political negotiations that will be held.