On May 26th, Romania will hold elections for the European Parliament. Romania will have 32 mandates. The elections for the EP will represent an important test both for the governing parties (PSD+ALDE) as well as for the main opposition forces (PNL and the Alliance USR & PLUS).
The opinion polls are forecasting a close race between PSD and PNL for ranking on the first place in the EP elections. In our assessment it is possible for PSD to win the EP elections (benefiting out of a reduced turnout than in general elections as well as due to the support provided by its wide national network of party members as well as by its numerous local officials). However, PSD should be expected to register a significant loss when compared to the results it has obtained in the last legislative elections (in November 2016), respectively 45%. Furthermore, we anticipate that the aggregated score of the governmental parties will not surpass the level of 50%. This will severely affect their overall political legitimacy.
It is also possible that the main opposition parties will register an aggregated electoral score larger than the one of the two governmental parties. If this will be the case, the opposition will have an additional argument to claim that most Romanians are supporting a change in government.
As the score that will be registered by PSD will be significantly lower than the one registered in 2016 elections, the party’ MPs will start to evaluate their chances of winning a new term in the 2020 parliamentary elections. This may increase several MPs’ appetite of migrating in the upcoming months to other parliamentary parties (stretching to maximum the stability of the governmental majority and increasing its dependence to UDMR). The poor performance of PSD (when compared to past results) will lead to the increase of the party active’ dissatisfaction towards its leader, Liviu Dragnea, internal tensions being likely to grow.
Another element of political relevance related to the EP elections refers to the score that will be registered by each of the two main forces of the political opposition: PNL and the Alliance USR & PLUS. If PNL will be ranked at a large difference to the Alliance USR&PLUS this will increase its arguments in negotiating the Alliance support for the national liberal candidate in this fall presidential elections: the incumbent president, Klaus Iohannis. If the difference will be rather small (bellow 5 percent), the Alliance USR&PLUS may be then willing to contemplate the possibility of endorsing a different candidate in the first round of the presidential elections.
The May 26th referendum on Judicial issues called by President Klaus Iohannis is aimed to boost the electoral support for the opposition forces and to increase the overall turnout to the elections. However, if the turnout at the referendum will not reach the 30% threshold, it will not be validated. In this scenario, PSD will be encouraged to continue its agenda of amending the Judicial framework. If the turnout at the referendum will be over 30%, but bellow 50%, PSD will still be able to claim that the Romanians that choose to not cast their vote agree with its agenda to amend the Judicial framework. The higher the turnout to the Referendum will be, the more will capitalize President Klaus Iohannis the result as an electoral confirmation of his agenda against PSD and set a good basis to reach his main objective for 2019: securing a second term.
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