The surprise of the European elections of 2019 comes from Romania

The results of the EP elections change the algorithm of voting

After two and half years in government, the Social Democrats lost the EP elections. Although, polls were speaking of a score close to 30% for Liviu Dragnea`s party, the massive turnout changed the results of these elections in favor of Liberals and Alliance 2020. This is the worst result registered by the Social Democrats since elections of 1996, when opposition under the Democratic Convention won the voting.

The results of the 26 May will have an important impact on national configuration of political forces and most probably will highlight future coalitions for governance. Also, the results of the elections show a strong pro-European wave in Romania which is thus exiting the European illiberal group of Poland and Hungary.

PE elections results

After counting votes in over 96% of polling stations in Romania the results of the elections for European Parliament in Romania show a rather surprising distribution of votes: PNL – 26.80%, PSD – 23.39%, USR-PLUS 2020 Alliance – 21.39%, Pro Romania – 6.61%, PMP – 5.66%, UDMR – 5.45%, ALDE – 4.24%.  At the same time, after the counting of votes in over 66% of the voting stations abroad, the distribution of votes is the following: USR- PLUS 2020 Alliance – 42.1%, PNL – 31.6%, PMP – 9.3%, George Simion (independent candidate) – 3.3%, PSD – 2.9%. Final results as well as the distribution of the 32 seats Romania has in the European Parliament will be announced soon by the Central Electoral Bureau.

Neither of the opinion polls have been able to capture the magnitude of the voters’ behavior, as shown in the graphic depiction bellow:

EU elections polls vs results
IMAS (May 2019) INSCOP Research – (May 2019) CURS (April 2019) IMAS (April 2019) Partial Election results of the Central Electoral Bureau
Social Democrats (PSD) 21,11% 26.4 % 32% 21.7% 23.39%
Liberals (PNL) 28,5% 26.1 % 25% 25.6% 26.80%
2020 Alliance (USR /PLUS) 19,6% 20.1 % 12% 16.4 % 21.39%
Pro Romania 9,9% 8.5 % 9% 11.7% 6.61%,
Alliance of Liberal & Democrats (ALDE) 9,8% 8.2 % 10% 12.2% 4.24%
Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) 3,8% 4.0 % 5% 5.6% 5.45%
Popular Movement Party (PMP) 6,2% 3.5 % 5% 5.6% 5.66%


The results were generated after a record turnout of 49.02% of the total number of registered voters. For comparison, the 2014 EP elections, the turnout was of only 32.44%.  It is even a higher than the turnout at the latest (2016) elections for the Romanian Parliament (39.42%) and close to the turnout at the 2014 presidential elections (53.17%). One other observation that has to be made in respect to the turnover is the very high mobilization of the urban areas compared to rural areas. It is still behind the EU average turnout 50.8%, but closer than before.

At the same time, although overshadowed, it has to be mentioned that the referendum of justice called by President Klaus Iohannis will be validated as it reached a turnout of 41.28% (over the needed threshold of 30%) with around 80% of people voting Yes for the two questions (the minimum was of 25% of the total number of voters to vote in favor).

Who lost?


Social Democrats at the crossroads. Lose the elections and leader of the party is condemned

The announcement of the elections` result had started an internal earthquake in the party, which seems to be unprepared to manage defeat. As president Liviu Dragnea was making declarations, the local leaders of the party were already asking for his resignation. But, the Social Democrats are in the position of managing the weak legitimacy and, at the same time, the governance, which is still a reality in the context of the situation from Parliament. The Social Democrats are crossing the most complicated internal crisis since 1990 as the new configuration is leaving the party without a viable candidate for the presidential elections from autumn, but most importantly without necessary popularity to continue implementation of the governing programme.

In this context, the leaders of the party have to decide in the coming days the mechanism to maintain power or to exit power in order to assure continuity of the party.

The leadership of the party is under question at the moment, given condemnation of Liviu Dragnea to 3, 6 year to prison in new case just hours after the end of the elections. This change of leadership will make vulnerable the PM Viorica Dancila and her cabinet, strongly supported by Liviu Dragnea, who might feel the pressure of the results of the elections and party leader`s condemnation and decide to reconsider the situation. A change of cabinet will mean for Social Democrats to lose access to power, a solution which is not satisfying the local leaders. Thus, probably the party will make appeal to final resorts in order to keep the power by distancing from Liviu Dragnea. Thus, leaders will try to impose new leadership who should be perceived by the public as distanced from Dragnea period and with a new discourse, more appealing for the European leaders and public.

This week is crucial for the Social Democrats and their agenda and most probably will force them to take into consideration an emergency solution in order to maintain even the yesterday results and credibility of the party. The Social Democrats will need internal reconstruction and new leaders in order to regain legitimacy. At the same time, continuing governance will have even a more negative impact on the Social Democrats as Romania will need profound unpopular economic decisions which PSD does not want to assume.


ALDE did not cross the electoral threshold

The junior partner of coalition did not manage to enter the European Parliament. This is one of the most significant surprises of the EP elections. In this context, the candidacy of Calin Popescu Tariceanu to the presidential elections is irrelevant for the coalition. At the same time, ALDE lost leverage in the coalition. We should expect a crisis in the coalition, as ALDE is blaming PSD also for its weak score and policies from the last years of governance. In this context, an internal conflict between PSD and ALDE is imminent which result will be translated in the impossibility of the coalition to continue with implementation of policies.

Who won?

The Liberals (PNL) registered their highest score since 1990. With a conformable first place, the Liberals are one of the winners of these elections with 9 MEPs in the EP. The positive results of the Liberals were influenced also by the involvement of President Klaus Iohannis in the campaign, whose decision to organize a national referendum on justice helped to Liberals to grow support of the electorate. In this context, the party will try to obtain governance in a coalition structure with other parties such as Alliance 20-20 (USR and PLUS). Still, there are steps to achieve as the majority in the Romanian Parliament is still PSD-ALDE. In this context, they are obliged to negotiate with the other political forces, but also to maintain the upward trend.

The Alliance 2020 (USR and PLUS) is the major surprise of these elections. Formed of two new parties, Union Save Romania, which managed a good score also in parliamentary elections of December 2016, and PLUS, the party of the former PM Dacian Ciolos, the alliance obtained an important score which is placing it in the third place immediately after PSD, with 8-9 MEPs. In this context, the alliance became a relevant actor on the political scene and most probably will continue the growing trend. But, in order to govern in the near future they are obliged to collaborate with the traditional party PNL and to negotiate in the Parliament.

PRO Romania of former PM Victor Ponta managed to get a good score, but lower than the initial estimations. Victor Ponta and Corina Cretu will get seats in the European Parliament. Still, the party is becoming a relevant political actor, with potential to get members of the Social Democratic Party, dissatisfied by the situation from the party. Still, Victor Ponta does not have sufficient legitimacy to ask for the leadership of his former party PSD.

PMP of Traian Basescu was also a surprise as it managed to cross the electoral threshold, although the party seemed not to have changes according to polls. The result of PMP is important in the context in which ALDE, a governing party, did not manage to enter European Parliament.

President Klaus Iohannis is also a major winner of the day. The referendum organized by the President on justice and its positive results reassured him of a second mandate. Once again, he is perceived as the most important leader of the opposition and most active opponent of the coalition PSD-ALDE. In this context, President Klaus Iohannis has gained legitimacy in the fight against corruption and position in the relation with the EU. Given situation from France with Emmanuel Macron`s party losing in front of Marine Le Pen, Klaus Iohannis has just became one of the most relevant voice at EU level.

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