July 8, 2020

The failure of the referendum puts pressure on the major parties and the Romanian Church

The failure of the referendum puts pressure on the major parties and the Romanian Church



The Orthodox Church and the two great parties of Romania, the socialist PSD and the conservative PNL, are under pressure due to the failure, due to the high abstention, of the referendum held this weekend to veto any possibility that homosexuals can marry .

Only 21% of the nearly 19 million citizens entitled to vote went to the polls this weekend to participate in the consultation promoted by the Coalition for the Family, a platform of conservative and religious groups, and supported by the directives of the two great parties and the Orthodox Church.

By not reaching 30% of participation, the referendum has been declared invalid.

Among those who went to vote, 91.5% supported the proposal to modify the Romanian Constitution so that marriage would be defined as the union of a man and a woman.

Both the leader of the PSD, Liviu Dragnea, and the PNL, Ludovic Orban, are now under increasing pressure in their parties, for having opted for a referendum that has been boycotted by almost 80% of the electorate.

Robert Negoita, the Social Democrat mayor of one of the districts of Bucharest, accused Dragnea today of being "far from reality" and argued that someone who has distanced himself so much from their voters should not remain at the head of the party.

Dragnea, who can not be prime minister for having been convicted of corruption, has been facing harsh criticism for weeks in his own party for directing him towards populist positions, facing the European Union (EU).

In the NLP, meanwhile, several barons also accused Orban, who had campaigned in favor of the "traditional family", of having distanced himself from his voters.

Dan Barna, president of the Salvado Romania Union, the only one of the big parties that opposed the referendum, has called for the Executive's resignation for having "squandered 40 million euros of public money in a fantasy".

Meanwhile, the Coalition for the Family, which forced the vote after gathering more than three million signatures, today announced its dissolution.

The powerful Orthodox Romanian Church, for its part, also had to acknowledge the failure of the referendum and assume that the weight of religion in society is less than expected.

In a statement, in which it affirms that it "respects and analyzes" the result, the Church accepts that the consultation has offered "the possibility of knowing the degree of secularization of the current Romanian society."

Some analysts have interpreted the failure of the referendum as a punishment of the electorate to the Socialist PSD.

"The abstention was a way to punish the PSD for all the skids of recent years, from the insistence on changing the Justice to the disastrous management of the swine flu crisis, which has directly affected the rural electorate," says Efe Cristian Pantazi, analyst of the G4.media.ro portal.

In addition, he said that, since there are no short-term plans to change the legislation to allow gay marriage, conservative voters have not had the urge to participate in the consultation.

Other experts argue that Romanian society is much less conservative than people think.

So says the sociologist Daniel David, who argues that Romanians have "allergy to the concentration of social power", which has generated "a psychological reaction against the authorities," which has manifested itself in doing the opposite of what they ask.

Robert Ratiu, president of MozaiQ, an NGO that defends the rights of homosexuals, told Efe that after the referendum failed, the government is obliged to urgently legalize civil unions between people of the same sex.

By Raúl Sánchez Costa

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