Stability and Stir
Consequences of the electoral designs in 1990s and 2000s
After two decades of free and competitive elections governed by the highly complicated rules of the Romanian electoral system, power changed hands four times passing Huntington’s ‘two-turnover test’ that theoretically thresholds a consolidated democracy (Huntington, 1991). For this period, the ballot box outcomes, analyzed across elections, reveal a number of developments, among which the most significant are: the rules and provisions of the electoral laws created a unified and rather coherent national party system, the competition was centered around a few major contenders that coalesce to form governments, yet there were no strong ‘elective affinities’ (Goethe, 1809) among them when it came to forming coalitions. No party could establish itself in a position of absolute dominance. For the entire period, the absolute survivors among the parliamentary hopefuls were: PNL/National Liberal Party, UDMR/Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania and the two progenies of the FSN/National Salvation Front: PSD/Social Democrat Party and PDL/Democratic Liberal Party. There were weak ties between voters and parties, paralleled by a consolidation of the control of the party leadership over the party machine. Organizations of the ethnic minority groups aside, the number of contenders in hunt for parliamentary seats dropped from a few dozen in 1990s to only five in 2008. Numbers whittled down in every category except for those that were part of the government coalitions, which actually quadrupled in the late 1990s compared to the 1990-1992 legislature, and dropped to two in the 2000s legislatures. Parties in opposition and parties that coalesced to...
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