Surprise ‘Gold’ Rush Hurtles Right-Wing Party Into Thick Of Romanian Politics

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12/08/2020

The support that propelled Romania’s little-known, right-wing AUR party into parliament in its inaugural national race may have shocked many, including the more established parties of an ex-president and former prime minister that fell short. But close followers of Romanian society say the warnings were evident ahead of the December 6 elections — from unprecedented fear and frustration about the local handling of a global pandemic to the disenchantment that led to a record-low turnout of under 32 percent. The result has been a 9 percent showing and parliamentary seats for the year-old Alliance for the Unification of Romania (AUR) — a party that ran on a combustible mix of ethno-nationalism and anti-globalization, support for Orthodoxy and anti-LGBT sentiment, and an “anti-system” platform built on populist scorn for the political class. The AUR’s leader, 34-year-old George Simion, is a nationalist rabble-rouser whose stunts and outbursts have previously won him headlines and entry bans but never much success at the ballot box.

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