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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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A regime swap zeros in on electoral politics. Those Romanians who reached adulthood in the 1940’s, and were still alive in 1990, witnessed a return to political diversity unique in the country’s history. There was political diversity again. Old parties came to life and new ones were being formed by the dozens. Competitive elections were being organized. Many of those who had been politically persecuted and marginalized for decades, were now at center stage. Ordinary people seemed to have the floor. A variety of electoral strategies reached the voters, parties fought to gain legitimacy and electoral niches, while electoral spin doctors were ebullient.

The first multi-party elections were held in 1990, after almost half a century of a one-party rule. Roughly four out of five citizens voted and, to the surprise of observers, the political force that won was made up of second-level cadres from the communist regime. The historic political parties that were resuscitated in winter-spring 1990, barely managed to enter the parliament. In the second round of multi-party elections held in 1992, two out of three Romanians went to the polls enabling the same political forces to maintain their clout over the parliament. However, in each of the next five legislative elections – 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 – the fortunes of parties changed, the winners and the losers swapped, some left the political arena for good, some left their old ‘cloths’ to endorse the new.

Looking for legitimacy and consolidation through legality...

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