Photo: Dacian Ciolos, head of the USR/PLUS 2020 Alliance list on the campaign trail
The European elections will take place exactly one month from now, on 26 May, and according to the latest projections, out of the Romanian 32 seats in the future EU Parliament, the opposition National Liberal Party (PNL, a member of the EPP group) would grab 9 seats, the governing Socialists (PSD) – 8, the Alliance 2020 USR/PLUS – 6, followed by the junior governing ALDE party and the Socialist splinter group Pro Romania of Victor Ponta with 3 to 4 each, the remaining two seats going either to the Alliance of the ethnic Hungarians UDMR, or to the PMP of the former Romanian president Traian Basescu.
The latest projections were released by Kantar Public for the Public Opinion Monitoring Unit of the European Parliament’s Directorate General for Communication, and were published mid-April, on the last working day of the former EU legislature. They were based on polling data published in the 28 EU member states until 15 April 2019.
From what appears thus as a reasonable projection, and using the official party lists, the 32 Romanian MEPs would be the following:
PNL, opposition (EPP):
1. Rareş Bogdan, journalist Realitatea TV
2. Mircea Hava, mayor of Alba Iulia
3. Siegfried Mureşan, currently MEP
4. Daniel Buda, currently MEP
5. Adina Vălean, currently MEP
6. Vasile Blaga, former PNL vice-president
7. Dan Motreanu, former PNL secretary general
8. Gheorghe Falcă, mayor of Arad
9. Cristian Buşoi, currently MEP
8 MEPs would come from the governing Socialists (PSD, S&D):
1. Rovana Plumb (MEP)
2. Carmen Avram (journalist, TV anchor)
3. Claudiu Manda (husband of the PSD passionaria Olguta Vasilescu)
4. Cristian Terhes (a defrocked Greek Catholic priest)
5. Dan Nica (MEP)
6. Maria Grapini (MEP)
7. Tudor Ciuhodaru
8. Dragos Benea
PSD would thus present a perfect parity: four women and four men. The sister party ALDE is offering a similar female/male composition (see below).
The opposition Alliance 2020 USR/PLUS would gain 6 seats:
1. Dacian Ciolos (PLUS president)
2. Cristian Ghinea (USR)
3. Dragoș Pîslaru (PLUS)
4. Clotilde Armand (USR)
5. Dragoş Tudorache (PLUS)
6. Nicolae Ștefănuță (USR)
Being a new party, PLUS/USR were not represented in the last EU legislature. The PLUS president, Dacian Cioloș, a former EU Commissioner for Agriculture, has hinted that the alliance might join a future centre-right formation, possibly together with Macron’s LREM, or in a refurbished ALDE group. EU’s ALDE is already in the processes of kicking out the Romanian ALDE of Calin Popescu Tariceanu, a junior party in the present Romanian governing coalition.
Tariceanu’s ALDE is credited with three to four seats:
1. Norica Nicolai, MEP
2. Daniel Barbu, former Culture Minister, former chief of the Permanent Electoral Authority
3. Renate Weber, MEP
4. (Ovidiu Silaghi ?)
Victor Ponta’s Pro Romania would also get three to four seats:
1. Victor Ponta, former PSD president, former prime minister
2. Corina Cretu, current EU Commissioner
3. Mihai Tudose, former prime minister
4. Iurie Leanca, former prime minister of the neighbouring, Romanian speaking, Republic of Moldova
From PMP, the party of the former president Traian Basescu:
(followed by Eugen Tomac)
From the Hungarian ethnic formation UDMR:
Iuliu Winkler, MEP
(followed by Lorant Vincze)
So, to sum up, this would be the list of the 32 Romanian MEPs, by parties and possible political affiliations:
1. Rareş Bogdan (PNL, EPP)
2. Mircea Hava (PNL, EPP)
3. Siegfried Mureşan (PNL, EPP)
4. Daniel Buda (PNL, EPP)
5. Adina Vălean (PNL, EPP)
6. Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP)
7. Dan Motreanu (PNL, EPP)
8. Gheorghe Falcă (PNL, EPP)
9. Cristian Buşoi (PNL, EPP)
10. Rovana Plumb (PSD, S&D)
11. Carmen Avram (PSD, S&D)
12. Claudiu Manda (PSD, S&D)
13. Cristian Terhes (PSD, S&D)
14. Dan Nica (PSD, S&D)
15. Maria Grapini (PSD, S&D)
16. Tudor Ciuhodaru (PSD, S&D)
17. Dragos Benea (PSD, S&D)
18. Dacian Cioloș (PLUS, ?)
19. Cristian Ghinea (USR, ?)
20. Dragoș Pîslaru (PLUS, ?)
21. Clotilde Armand (USR, ?)
22. Dragoş Tudorache (PLUS, ?)
23. Nicolae Ștefănuță (USR, ?)
24. Norica Nicolai (ALDE, ?)
25. Daniel Barbu (ALDE, ?)
26. Renate Weber (ALDE, ?)
27. Victor Ponta (Pro RO, ?)
28. Corina Cretu (Pro RO, ?)
29. Mihai Tudose (Pro RO, ?)
30. Iurie Leanca (Pro RO, ?)
31. Iuliu Winkler (UDMR, PPE)
32. Lorant Vincze
31. Traian Basescu (PMP, PPE)
32. Eugen Tomac
As per European political affiliations, we have thus, at least for now:
11 EPP (PNL, PMP, UDMR); 8 S&D (PSD); 6 possible ALDE (PLUS/USR); 7 uncertain affiliations (ALDE, Pro RO).
The EPP member party PNL is solidly based in prosperous Transylvania (with the two mayors of Arad and Alba Iulia on the lists, and also journalist Rares Bogdan). Transylvania is a Western-oriented province where the backbone of the PNL support is a tight network of towns and villages run by the party, and where they also benefit from the backing of the Evangelical Church of which the president of the country, Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German, is also a member.
The PSD Socialists are influent mostly in the poor southern provinces and in Moldova, and they are tacitly supported by the majority Orthodox church, which is permanently benefitting from the largesse of the state.
Some of the figures on the lists are rather extravagant. There are two former well-known journalists, Rares Bogdan (PNL) and Carmen Avram (PSD); a rabidly anti-Western former priest (Cristian Terhes, PSD); a practically dyslexic but candid former female MEP who cannot hold a coherent discourse in her own language (Maria Grapini, PSD).
There are four former prime ministers (Ponta, Ciolos, Tudose, and, from Moldova, Leanca) and a former president (Traian Basescu). Also, two EU Commissioners (Dacian Ciolos again, and the incumbent Corina Cretu). There is a Frenchwoman (Clotilde Armand) who once ran unsuccessfully as mayor of the Bucharest 1st district.
Some of those who happen to be in the opposition, such as the former prime minister Victor Ponta and the PNL former journalist Rares Bogdan were ferocious backers of the failed 2012 PSD/PNL parliamentary putsch against the then president Traian Basescu, who is now running on his own PMP list.
Finally, there is also at least one candidate targeted by justice, Daniel Barbu (ALDE), a former Culture Minister and former chief of the Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP). He is currently being investigated by the anticorruption directorate DNA in relation to misuse of public subsidies for political parties.
The investigation also includes the treasurer of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mircea Draghici. The prosecutors accuse Draghici of having used some 380,000 euros of the funds PSD received from the electoral authority to buy a property worth over half a million euros and to finish off a long-term contract through which he leased the property to his own party. The prosecutors also found that Draghici took for himself a luxury car that the PSD party had bought using public subsidies received from AEP.
The DNA accuses Daniel Barbu, as former AEP head, of not bothering to check the way the Socialists used public funds and of having stopped an AEP control into PSD’s use of public subsidies beginning of this year. At this stage, it is still uncertain whether, being under DNA investigation, Daniel Barbu will be able to run for the European Parliament, where he would benefit from immunity.