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Romanian Parliamentary Elections 1990–2012

Stability and Stir

Cosmin Gabriel Marian

This is a book about parliamentary elections in Romania in the two decades that followed the collapse of the one-party rule. It charts how the electoral rules developed, it looks at how people voted, and takes stock of the long term effects of the electoral system. Despite commotion and experimentation in the electoral rules and stir in the political arena, the Romanian election outcomes over the past two decades are surprisingly monotonous. Twenty years after they entered the first electoral cycle in 1990, the Romanian political parties and partisan groups were about in the same condition: quarters united against themselves.
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Right, Left and Wrong in Romanian Politics. Making Sense of Ideological Labels


Making sense of political life is not an easy job for the average citizen. The task gets harder when political concepts pour in and time to distill is short. Thus is the case of Romanian voters, abruptly entering a democratic and free information-based way of politics in the early 1990s. After decades of frozen political language, they found themselves in the midst of political and electoral processes and events that operated with: ‘social security’, ‘capital’, ‘investment’, ‘minority rights’, ‘state intervention’, ‘logic of the markets’, ‘free choice’, ‘subsidy’, ‘tradition’, ‘need to conserve’, etc. To the rescue came shortcuts aimed at sparing the effort of intertwining numerous concepts and meanings. Soon politicians, media and citizens were identifying themselves or were distinguishing others as being ‘left’ or ‘right’. This chapter will briefly review the evolution of self-identification of average Romanian citizens in the 1990s and 2000s on the left-right scale, and will try to clarify what meaning the ideological labels had for them. The focus here is to test how much value the average citizen can attach to these heuristic aids and how reliable this shorthand for political communication can be. The main finding is that, whatever their cachet among scholars, the use of ideological labels by regular people in Romania, while not completely void, is far from meaningful. The explanation is that, in this case, the ideological labels are just one additional layer of confusing concepts adding to an already confusing political and electoral debate.

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