Romania: meteoric rise of a new ‘far-right’ party

The results of the Romanian legislative elections have upset the political scene in this central and eastern European country. A new “far-right” populist party which was launched on December 1, 2019 has made a huge breakthrough in the midst of a health and social crisis.

With the legislative elections of December 6, 2020, the new party “Alliance for the Union of Romanians” [Alianța pentru Unirea Românilor] with the acronym AUR has stirred up the Romanian political scene.

It is not its fairly classic conservative policy positions that worry the mainstream, but its very rapid rise in a very short time. In fact, during the municipal elections of September 27, 2020, the party managed to obtain only 0,77 percent of the total votes cast, while in the legislative elections of December 6, 2020 they received 8,7 percent of the votes.

According to AUR, the family should be “traditional”. Thus, during their campaign they ardently defended a bill prohibiting the teaching of gender identity theory. Nevertheless, the Romanian Constitutional Court stopped this law, ruling on its unconstitutionality on December 16 with the mainstream denouncing the party as “homophobic”.

With the surprising score of 9 percent, the AUR party received a lot of media coverage and was able to reach other members of the electorate that had not heard of them before. According to what the party published in a December 8 statement, 15 000 new members joined the AUR party within 24 hours of the vote count.

Former Romanian President Trăian Băsescu had speculated on the possibility of interference by “Russian trolls from Saint Petersburg” in the new party’s election campaign. However, AUR leader George Simion said the campaign was carried out using smart targeting and the Nation Builder software – also used by Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron – for a budget of 100 000 euros.

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