The referendum’s big losers and who is gaining from a major failure
The failure of the referendum for the family represents a striking defeat for several political leaders, with Liviu Dragnea featuring at the top of the list, followed by the Orthodox Church and Patriarch Daniel, by a part of the press involved in supporting the referendum, but also by Russia, who would have benefited in the long term from a possible success, which would have been presented as a vote against Western values. Below is the complete list of losers.
Liviu Dragnea. The SDP leader is the great loser. He assumed the whole item, presented it as of great importance, crucial, etc. Now he will have to account this resounding failure, especially since the opponents in the party and outside will say that he did not vote for it. Normally, a resignation is required, but SDP leaders might turn the accusations against other groups: they might blame those who contested Liviu Dragnea inside the party, the opposition who boycotted the referendum, the parallel state, President Iohannis, etc. In any case, the SDP leader will have to account politically for this defeat.
SDP. The weak score is a bad note for the party. The public simply did not trust its good intentions. If the referendum were a general rehearsal before the elections of 2019, as some leaders have declared, then the signs do not look promising for the SDP. Without major changes at the top, and especially changes in governance, focusing solely on the annihilation of justice, the party will massively lose the voters’ confidence, who were seduced in a first phase with increases in pensions and wages.
Patriarch Daniel and the Orthodox Church. The desperate call launched on Sunday evening by believers to go to the vote „until it’s not too late” says a lot. Too late for whom? For the Orthodox Church or the Patriarch? The failure of the referendum is another blow to the credibility of the Church. In whose name does the Church speak, since the number of those who voted barely approached the number of signatories to the constitutional amendment initiative and represent less than 20% of the number of citizens with the right to vote?
National Liberal Party leader Ludovic Orban. Long-held opposition within the party, his pro-referendum position, and aligning with ultraconservative figures such as Mihai Neamţu, turned out to be a major error. He gave the party’s opponents new reasons for attack, and gave the public reasons to criticize the party affirming that it is playing SDP’s games and adopting, by extension, an anti-European rhetoric, even if it held a referendum on the family, which was without ideological motivation only in appearance.
The Family Coalition. They made a huge issue of the 3 million signatures gathered for amending the Constitution, but those who voted barely reached this number. The ultraconservative stream supported by this coalition does not enjoy support in the Romanian society.
Neo-protestants in Romanian politics. I saw them in the referendum campaign from all parties, filling the TV screens with aggressive pro-referendum propaganda, without the public being warned that they are expressing a partisan point of view because of their religion. Here again we have to say that the pro-referendum movement was supported by conservative groups in the United States that would have played the role of useful idiots of Russia, the only great beneficiary of an ultraconservative rhetoric in this part of Europe.
Russia. Moscow’s official news agency, Sputnik, supported propagandistically the referendum and promoted any action that could undermine Western values. „For this reason, I argue that I did not exaggerate the association with Armageddon, the field of final battle! I do not exaggerate, because our country, crushed by the hypocritical maneuvers of Western neo-colonialist imperialism, has lost all the force of opposing, defending itself … ” wrote Sputnik in a text published on October 4, “Referendum? No, it is Romania’s Armageddon!” Now, a contrario, the failure of the referendum means that Romania turns its back on the values backed so frantically by Russia’s propaganda and gives a chance to the West.
The propaganda press. Even if the Antena 3 debates only pretended to have a semblance of balance in the selection of the pro and referendum guests, the stars of the post, Mihai Gadea, Mircea Badea and others openly supported the referendum. More subtly, another SDP house journalist, Bogdan Chireac, announced that he would go to the referendum, but that he would vote No. But the stake in this referendum was precisely non-participation, in order to avoid reaching the 30% quorum.
The “big” small losers. Traian Basescu played again Dragnea’s hand, even though he appeared to be against the referendum. The SDP’s stake was to attract as many voters as possible so the referendum could reach the 30% quorum. UDMR (Hungarian minority party) missed the opportunity of adopting a correct position, as it urged the Hungarian public to vote and vote according to conscience, whereas the counties of Harghita and Covasna registered the weakest poll participation in the country
Polling institutes that have announced an attendance of 30 or even 34 percent of the voting population. It is a major failure, a measurement error going over any acceptable margin of error.
Who’s winning. By inviting the population to boycott the vote, the leader of the Movement Romania Together, Dacian Cioloş, and USR have positioned themselves correctly. We are not talking here about the issue dealt with in the referendum, but about the intuition of not being politically associated with a losers’ approach. However, the great winner is Romania, which manages to avoid amending the Constitution with a phrase stipulating that marriage can only happen between a man and a woman. This would be tantamount to a political statement as described by Sputnik, “out of the European space,” described as „independence from Western neocolonialism.”
Finally, the EU and Romania’s western partners win. Also, the LGTB community, which is now waiting for the much-promised civil partnership law, can hopefully get past the list of winners, and may hope to legalize same-sex marriages.
Traducerea: Ruxandra Stoicescu
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