Romania’s presidential race starts in the European Parliament

, by Ioan Bucuraș

Romania's presidential race starts in the European Parliament
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis with USR leader Dan Barna. Photo: Romanian President (presidency.ro)

It’s on. Romanian political turf wars are taking place in Brussels and are then launched in the most perspicacious of ways onto the public scene back home.

Still remembering Manfred Weber? The EPP’s Spitzenkandidat? Well, the newly formed liberal Renew Europe Group dared not to support him, prompting various Romanian EPP politicians to accuse the group leader, Dacian Ciolos, of being Macron’s executant and solidarising with the Socialists, saying that this is the “true face of the Alliance USR-Plus”, transposing ongoing party political conflicts from back home (everyone against PSD) on the EU’s institutional battlefield. Quite a hypocritical move, given the fact that the centre-right and the social democrats have held the reins in the European Parliament together for decades.

Additionally, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis seemed to be fairly irritated about Ciolos posting on Twitter that after his discussions with Emmanuel Macron, Romania will be having French presidential support in the Council for its candidate, Laura Codruta Kövesi, to become the Union’s first chief prosecutor. He ironically stated today that “various politicians are now trying to cling on to this topic, since it is of great public interest.”

Now that the former common enemy, PSD, has seemingly been thrown into the corner of political insignificance (at least for now), PNL and the Alliance are already jolting each other, because it is highly likely that their lead candidates will face one another in the second round of the presidential elections, making it a political premiere in Romania.

So far, the only politician to publicly announce his candidacy is the incumbent president. The Save Romania Union (USR) will announce its proposed candidate this Saturday (13 July 2019). Dan Barna, the party’s current leader, will most likely become the presidential nominee. The other Alliance party, PLUS, will most likely support Barna and will thus rally together with USR behind a single candidate.

If the Alliance indeed manages to win the presidency, this will shake the Romanian political establishment to its foundations. It will be difficult, though, as the incumbent president enjoys a largely favourable approval rate.

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