Romanians slammed the incumbent governing parties with a massive vote in favor of the opposition in European elections on Sunday. With queues before polling stations, at home but even more so in the Diaspora, lasting forever, they also voted in enough numbers for a referendum in defense of the Romanian justice against government pressure to reach validation threshold.
- BACKGROUND: EU elections: Domestic struggles split Romania voters between nationalistic, populist government and mostly European-friendly opposition
Exit polls as voting stopped at 9 p.m., as announced by pollsters CURS-Avangarde for the Romanian public television:
- Social Democratic Party (PSD, main government party) – 25.8% (some 20 percentage points below 2016 general elections)
- National Liberal Party (PNL, main opposition party) – 25.8%
- USR-Plus (alliance of two smaller, newer opposition parties) – 23.9% (they do not have a developed party infrastructure at national level)
- The minority government partner ALDE appears to fail to reach the 5% threshold, with only 4.9% of the votes
- Hungarian Democrats (UDMR) – 5.4%
- PMP – 5.2%
- Pro Romania – 5.7%
UPDATE 1 – 9.07 PM Romanian President Klaus Iohannis thanked Romanians for their patience in the voting process and blamed the PSD government of mocking the Romanian people, especially Romanians leaving abroad.
- He lauded PNL and USR-Plus and said the PSD got a result worthy of their “doing nothing” since taking over the government in 2016. A failed government, he said, which must “disappear” in the wake of this result. “This result cannot be read in any other way”, the President said.
- Ludovic Orban, leader of the PNL, also said the current PSD government no longer had any legitimacy and urged them to “go home”. And Dan Barna, one of the leaders of the USR-Plus Alliance, called “officially for the resignation of the Dancila government”.
UPDATE 2 – 9.26 PM PSD leader Liviu Dragnea refused to resign immediately, as urged by both the opposition and a prominent member of his own party. He said he would hold responsibility for the results within a party leadership session and not “before you” (journalists). And he urged PM Dancila not to give in to pressure to resign as her government had a mandate to “fulfill the government program”.
- He failed to say he would run for president, as he suggested he was about to do, and said the party would have to decide about the nomination in the very near future. He circulated that a choice should be made between fellow PSD leader, Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea “if she is stil in” and the leader of ALDE partner party, Calin Popescu Tariceanu
- And he said he was not afraid of a verdict in a corruption case against him where the High Court is expected to make a decision on Monday. He claimed that a possible verdict to convict him would mean the court gave in to political pressure.
Turnout by 8 p.m., one hour before closing polls, turnout in the European Elections in Romania stood at 46.4% – a record for recent elections in the country. Turnout in the referendum called by the President stood slightly lower at 38.96%, above the 30% threshold necessary for validation.
The elections were marked by abysmal organisation of polling stations especially abroad. Romanians from the Diaspora had sometimes to spend hours in line, waiting to vote, with queues going on for several streets occasionally, in places like Brussels, London, or cities across Italy. As elections were drawing to a close, thousands of people were still waiting to vote as electoral authorities in Bucharest dismissed calls to keep stations open longer.
- Blamed was mainly focused on Foreign minister Teodor Melescanu, who also organised previous round of elections marked by bad organisation of stations abroad, where the majority of the votes traditionally go against the Social Democrats (PSD).