Some 18 million Romanians are invited to vote for their 32 representatives in the European Parliament on Sunday. Running in the elections are 500 candidates, 13 parties, two alliances and 8 independents. A dull electoral campaign was dominated by confrontations between the governing Social Democrats, their former partners the National Liberals and an array of right-wing parties and was seen more as a testing ground for presidential elections due to take place in Romania later this year.
Campaigning for the EP elections has been timid for the past month. On the media front, the main battle was carried between the governing Social Democrats (PSD, allied with two smaller political parties), their former partners from the National Liberal Party (PNL) and a group of parties descending from the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) - which also tries to sends its candidates back to the European Parliament in these elections.
- In 2012, PSD in alliance with the Liberals won a landslide victory in Romanian legislative elections. Later, though, the alliance has broken and the two forces ran separately in current the European poll. Meanwhile, the party that the USD-PNL alliance removed from power in 2012, the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL), has split into several factions which ran separately in this poll.
USD, PDL and PNL were all trying to send their incumbent MEPs back into the European Parliament. But the campaign focused on the leaders of the respective parties and on those expected to run for the Romanian Presidency late this year.
Beyond the electoral battle, another struggle dominated the poll - that between still increasing groups of people who do not feel represented by any of the major parties and who have started to call for citizen strikes (not attending the poll); parties interested in a low turnout; and smaller opposition parties and opponents of the PSD who have been calling for people to show up and vote so that there be more diversity of representation in the EP.
European issues were almost nonexistent during the campaign, which focused on positioning the parties, and not the necessarily candidates, in the eyes of the voters. Nationalistic lines such as "Proud to be Romanians" (PSD) or various takes on the idea of "defending" Romania in Europe were especially noteworthy.