Politics in Romania
When the Post-Communist Left Succeeds: The 2016 Romanian Parliamentary Election
While the dynamic of party competition in Romania resembles the general Eastern European pattern, the 2016 parliamentary election brought the large-scale victory of the post-communist left, in a region drifting to the right. As the chapter argues, two main reasons explain the apparent exceptionality of the Romanian case: ideological flexibility of the mainstream parties, and the lingering effect of the unpopular austerity policies of the center-right government, aimed to tackle the 2009-10 economic crisis. The Social-Democratic Party (PSD) managed to benefit from both conditions and achieve a historically high electoral result. The chapter takes stock of the developments leading up to the 2016 election and examine the reasons behind the overwhelming victory of the post-communist left. The analysis relies on an original data source of parties’ issue positions and relative emphasis based on the core sentence dataset, collected by the POLCON ERC project. Additionally, public opinion data is used to illustrate the developments on the demand side of party competition since the 2008 parliamentary election. The chapter ends with a discussion on the general character of party competition in Romania.
Keywords: Romania, electoral politics, post-communist left, programmatic instability, economic crisis