Friday, May 23, 2008

Getting an Election

The local elections are coming up in Romania and everyone is agog with excitement. Ok, not very agog, or even agogish in any way, but there are elections and there is a bit of half-arsed mild interest. Anyone who relied on the TV to give them an insight into the upcoming elections would conclude that the only race happening was the one for mayor of Bucharest, since nothing else even gets a mention. (Though to be fair, the impression I got of the recent local elections in the UK suffered from the same capital-centric media coverage)

I am told that I am even allowed to have a vote in these elections, which surprised me, because I thought as a non-citizen it was only Eruopean elections that I could vote in, but apparently EU laws allow legally resident non-citizens to vote in local (but not national) elections. So that's exciting. Or at least it would be were I not in Central Asia on June 1st when the elections take place. So my vote will have to be held back.

The focus here is all about the new Hungarian party which is competing this time out and which looks set to split the Hungarian vote. I wrote some time ago about how I felt the UDMR's monopoly of the Hungarian vote was undemocratic and ultimately not that helpful, but a number of people have told me since that they disagree and that without the UDMR, however flawed they may be, Hungarians would have nothing, and the (actually very good) minority law would not exist. [I'm not sure I believe this entirely, but a lot of people do, and that's what matters]

The new party (well, they've been around since 2001) is called the MPP or "Hungarian Civic Party" and they're a more nationalist party than the UDMR. The leader, Szász Jenõ, mayor of Udvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc), is a bit of a prick (in my considered political opinion) and he looks like a village idiot on all the posters (not that looks count for anything, but I couldn't help but noticing). This raises all sorts of issues - I've heard some Hungarians say they won't vote at all, in protest at having to choose (which is an interesting spin on traditional democracy) - what they mean is that they don't want the vote split and their abstention is a protest against the lack of unity. I haven't heard of anyone who says they will vote for the MPP, but (a) Csikszereda really isn't the party's heartland; and (b) people in Romania are very wary - to the point of cultural taboo- about saying who they are going to vote for anyway.

Here in Harghita county, the question is just by what split the vote goes between the UDMR and MPP, since the vast majority of it will go to one of those parties, and it's not like the split will "let in the Romanians" as the fear runs. In places like Targu Mures and Oradea where there is a very significant Hungarian minority though, presumably the split vote will make a significant difference. Everyone I've heard hopes that the MPP lose badly so they throw their lot in with the UDMR at the next general election - otherwise the Hungarian community might fail to get any representation at all in the next parliament. (And the anecdotal evidence of my email inbox suggests that Romanian nationalism is on the rise, a bit)

As for me - well, neither of the two Hungarian parties really represent my political views. The UDMR is soft right and in the European parliament is in the same block as the UK tory party. While the MPP is, I believe, aligned with the Hungarian Fidesz party who always seem like a complete bunch of right-wing tossers. So the new deomcracy for Hungarian Romanians is to choose between a right wing Hungarian party or a right wing slightly more nationalist Hungarian party. Woohoo - what choice! The mainstream Romanian parties don't really appeal either, with the so-called left wing one being the corrupt old gits at the PSD. So, to break down a cultural taboo, I don't know if the Romanian Green party is putting up a candidate in Csikszereda, but if they were, and if I were able to vote, I'd give it to them.


Gadjo Dilo said...

We've got lots of election posters up in Cluj, and I've been enjoying them. Most people seem to have little against the incumbant, Emil Boc, who mends the roads and seems to cause minimal distress; but I was distressed when I saw that monomaniac xenophobe Gheorghe Funar is standing for mayor again. He's even had some posters made of himself trying to smile, which I find scary. There are other strange right-wing-sounding (to me, at least) parties; the (old-ish) people on their posters often look like they've been in a prison for several years, though it's hard to tell on which side of the bars. It's probably not their fault how they look, it was a hard life for many here in the Good Old Days. Once again, I must try to inform myself better: I you're right, maybe I too have a vote.

Anonymous said...

The Romanian "nationalists" are out the door. In Cluj, polls put PRM (Funar's party) at 2% and Becali's party doesn't even register. Nationally, PRM will not get enough votes to enter Parliament for the first time in their history.

"And the anecdotal evidence of my email inbox suggests that Romanian nationalism is on the rise, a bit".
I beg to differ, my theory is that more Romanian "nationalists" have access to the internet.

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