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The new Europhobic discourse of the Romanian Socialists

Liviu Dragnea (in white shirt) cooking sausages for party fans on his campaign trail.

Speaking today to a crowd gathered in the southern town of Târgoviște, that had been literally locked to outside traffic (incidentally, Târgoviște was the site of the improvised trial and hasty execution of Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena in December 1989), the Romanian socialist boss Liviu Dragnea, accused again Europe and the country’s pro-Western president Klaus Iohannis of all Romania’s ills.

During the last year, the public discourse of the Romanian Socialist (PSD) officials and of those of the allied ALDE party has become more and more stridently anti-European, in order to divert the voters’ attention from the country’s economic woes.

Dragnea painted today the image of a country under siege from unscrupulous Western EU member countries, who control their local “puppets”, such as president Iohannis and the opposition parties. He repeated the main theme of the electoral campaign of his PSD party: promising protectionism for Romanian food and vegetables, including a law imposing fines on shops that sell “poisoned fruits and vegetables”.

One of the most extravagant claims of the Romanian socialists is that the Dutch government is trying to ruin the trade in the Black Sea port of Constanta in order to protect the activity of its own port of Rotterdam, the biggest in Europe. Dragnea went so far as to claim that he is hated in the West for having refused to sell Constanta to the Netherlands.

Playing on a voluntary confusion between Western governments and Western commodities providers, he said EU countries dump inside Romania “hormone-treated meat and milk cans with no real milk in them”.

In the recent past, Dragnea went to even more grotesque lengths, saying that Romania is “hated” for its economic growth and European governments West fear Romanian villages will soon be more beautiful that their own villages. He even claimed in a TV interview that a team of assassins had come from abroad to kill him, and that they stayed at a posh hotel in central Bucharest.

Other important Romanian officials, such as the chief of the Senate and ALDE president Calin Popescu Tariceanu, gloat that the activation of Article 7 against Romania, as threatened by the Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, is impossible, “because unanimity is needed”.

Prime minister Viorica Dancila also keeps calling opposition politicians who criticize the government as “unpatriotic” and promises to send to the European Parliament only “patriots who love their Motherland”.

By using such language directed at the bulk of the uneducated voters that form the electoral foundation of the PSD, the Romanian Socialists and their allied ALDE politicians are going much further than the the Eurosceptic discourse practiced in either Hungary or Poland.  

The official Romanian anti-European discourse has become much more violent than the one used by Matteo Salvini in Italy or Marine Le Pen in France. Since it is out of the question, for the time being, that the PSD be kicked out of the S&D group in the European Parliament, it would be a wild guess to try to imagine whether they will still be tolerated in the Socialist transnational group after the new Parliament is formed. The Romanian PSD is credited with only 8 seats out of the Romanian total of 32, and the European Socialists will receive a new input of members from the future British Labour MEPs, who are credited with a good result in the upcoming elections.

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