New coalition government expected to take Romania further to the right

Left-wing and progressive sections in Romania are concerned about the socio-economic policies of the incipient right-wing coalition government, which is likely to be voted in on November 4

November 04, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Romania govt.
The Romanian parliament is likely to endorse an interim government comprising of a coalition of right-wing, pro-European, conservative and regionalist parties under the leadership of Ludovic Orban, who heads the conservative National Liberal Party (PNL).

Romania’s parliament is likely to endorse a new conservative government on November 4, Monday. This follows the fall of the Social Democratic Party (PSD)-led government of Viorica Dăncilă last month. A no-confidence motion proposed by Ludovic Orban, leader of the conservative National Liberal Party (PNL), on October 10 was supported by the Save Romania Union (USR) and four other political parties, leading to the fall of the government. 

238 of the 244 ballots cast were in favor of the motion, five more than the required number. The no confidence motion was placed in front of the 136 senators and 329 deputies (a total of 465), who voted on it together.

Orban will be the leader of the new coalition, which will include the USR and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (DAHR).

According to reports, there was widespread anger and discontent among Romanians against the center-left government of Dăncilă that was accused of decriminalizing corruption in the country. The opposition parties were thus able to justify their use of the no-confidence motion. Tens of thousands of Romanians had marched in Bucharest on August 10, demanding the resignation of Dăncilă’s government and a fair justice system. According to reports, the PSD had attempted to dilute anti-corruption laws in the country after it came to power in December, 2016. 

On the other hand, progressive and left-leaning sections in Romania are equally concerned about the implications of the new coalition government that is comprised of right-wing, conservative and regionalist parties.

On October 10, left-leaning member of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, Adrian Dohotaru, from the anti-corruption based USR, abstained from voting in favor of the no-confidence motion tabled by the opposition, including his own party. He explained his decision on Facebook, saying “The PSD government has systematically betrayed the ideals of the left I believe in. For this betrayal, for corruption and incompetence, PSD must pay. However, I cannot subscribe or vote for a no-confidence motion that only criticizes the PSD in the light of right-wing values and does not propose any real alternative to Romania’s problems. The vision behind the vote will throw Romania from evil to worse.”

“What do you put in place of the government of Dăncilă? A government consisting of members of parties that criticize minimum wage increases and who want to dismantle the minimum wage? Who have previously signed austerity policies? Who blindly believe in a regulated market, who want to turn health and education into a commodity?” he further asked.

Andrei Alexandru from the Communist Party of Romania (PCdR), while speaking to Peoples Dispatch, said that the political crisis in Romania was essentially a clash between reactionaries, opportunists and the corrupt. According to him, the fall of the Dăncilă government would only lead to the onset of worse times for the Romanian people. In the following months, pensions and salaries will be cut as prices continue to rise. Communists will also be targeted and possibly imprisoned as one of the new coalition members seeks to suppress communist ideology in the country, he said.

The Party of Democracy and Solidarity (Demos) has also stated that they are “concerned about the political configuration of the future government in the country and its political, social and economic policies. The major opposition parties in Romania also pursue right-wing policies and aim to further weaken the state with capital tax cuts, even more extensive privatization in health and education and salary cuts, while ignoring the problems facing low income citizens”.

“We need another policy for another Romania, in which all citizens are equally protected by state laws, have the opportunity to live a decent life without the care of tomorrow, and can enjoy the riches of the country,” the party added.

Such concerns have been raised by several groups in the country, reflecting the angst of Romania’s working class, which is already in distress. Romania has the notorious record of being a ready source of cheap labor in the region. According to a report, Adrian Dohotaru was in the news recently for writing on the billboard of the Electrolux plant in the Romei Garden, “Romania is not a party to cheap labor.” Demos has also started a campaign against the precarious work conditions faced by Romanian labor and created a site called “Cheap Work Country” on September 18, to address this issue and bring about awareness regarding the plight of Romanian workers. With the installation of the new right-wing government, apprehensions regarding the status of workers in the country are on the rise.