Center-right parties post major gains in Romanian municipal elections

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The center-right electoral alliance of the political parties Save Romania Union (USR) and the Freedom, Unity and Solidarity Party (PLUS) posted major gains in the municipal elections in Romania, held despite a continuing high incidence of new coronavirus cases in the country.

In the capital, Bucharest, former USR President Nicușor Dan beat incumbent Social-Democrat (PSD) Mayor Gabriela Firea with a preliminary 47.2 percent, eight percentage points ahead of Firea who scored 39 percent of the vote. The electoral alliance formed in 2019 also won in Timișoara, Braşov, Alba Iulia, Bacău and Câmpulung Muscel. The Social Democrats only managed to hold on to the mayor positions in two of Bucharest’s administrative districts.

The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ), the main political party of the ethnic Hungarian minority in the country, managed to hold on to most of the cities it led during the previous term, but crucially, their candidate Zoltán Soós also managed to win the mayor’s seat in Marosvásárhely/Târgu Mureș, where just under half of the population (45.2 percent of its 134,000 inhabitants according to the latest, 2011 census) is Hungarian and which has had a Romanian mayor, Dorin Florea, for the past 20 years.

But beyond immediate political or ethnic affiliations, the most interesting win is that of 37-year-old German national, Dominic Fritz , who first came to the city in 2003 and fell in love with it, moved there, giving up a promising career in German politics (he was as chief of staff for former German President Horst Köhler).

His candidacy became possible back in 2015 when any European Union citizen was allowed to run for a local administration position in any other member state. He was running on a platform of digitalizing local administration, unleashing the multiethnic city’s creative potential and restoring mobility in a city stifled by automobiles.

He beat two-times mayor Nicolae Robu (65), engineer by training and owner of the local ACS Poli Timisoara football club, former rector of the local Technical University.

“It is an incredibly great honor for me that you have elected me your mayor. A man who came here for the first time in 2003, who did not speak a word of Romanian, you wrote history. Romania has elected a mayor who was not born in Romania, who has no relatives in Romania,” Fritz said celebrating his victory.

Romania will also hold legislative elections on Dec. 6 this year, with the municipal elections giving the USR-PLUS alliance a significant leg up.

Title image: USR-PLUS candidate Dominic Fritz celebrates his victory as mayoral candidate of Temesvár/Timișoara in western Romania on September 27, 2020. ( Tătaru)

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