The 1990 elections, the first “free” elections of Romania after the communist period, were arguably not free. While the stage of the campaign was dominated by Iliescu and FSN, the rest of the parties and their respective candidates – Câmpeanu, Rațiu – being seen as external and alien to Romanian reality. Thus FSN dominated the outcome of the elections in every county but in different degrees. The first post-Revolution elections also did not fail to signalize the difference in voter behavior between regions. In this way, if FSN won 66% on the national level, it only amounted to 46% in Transylvania and less than 12% in counties with a predominant Hungarian population such as Covasna and Harghita.
Similarly in the case of the presidential elections, whereas Ion Iliescu won 90% of votes in the majority of counties outside of line of the Carpathians, Radu Câmpeanu, the liberal candidate, won over 13% of votes in the east and center of Transylvania. With the exception of university centers, the Capital and Transylvanian counties, Ion Iliescu won by staggering percentages. Iliescu’s voters – what will become the core of the “left” in Romania – were characterized by a lower level of education, engaged in agriculture and spatially located in the rural areas of the “Old Kingdom”.
Local elections of 1992 only reconfirmed the trend of voter behavior. The newly formed CDR won mayoral offices in large cities, among which the Capital and its six sectors. Regionally, FSN won most votes in the historic provinces of Moldova, Muntenia and Oltenia, whereas CDR dominated Transylvania, Banat and the city of Bucharest.
In the parliamentary elections of 1992, Iliescu’s FDSN distances itself from FSN and Petre Roman, and does not attack CDR directly. Instead, satellite parties such as PSM and PRM stress the Hungarian danger. In their discourse relating to the issue of foreign relations, the two main forces differ radically. Thus, CDR relies on closer ties with Europe and international capital toward industrial development while FDSN stubbornly describes a path based on Romania’s own powers, reconfirming its non-Western and non-European stance.
Regionally, the Banat province, southern Transylvania and the Capital represented the main sources of votes for CDR. PSM gained the most support in Oltenia and the extra-Carpathian area, whereas PUNR harnessed the nationalist vote of Romanians in Mureș and Cluj counties. FDSN’s electorate can still be found in the same extra-Carpathian regions, the party obtaining first place in the 1992 parliamentary elections in 1973 basic administrative units, the majority of which are in the same area. Participating alone, PNL gained poor results, getting the most votes in Hunedoara, Bihor, Caraș-Severin, Maramureș but also Galați, Suceava and Tulcea. Petre Roman’s FSN gained support mainly from the south-east of Romania, north of Moldova and Maramureș.
The 1992 presidential elections followed the same pattern of voting blocs, with Ion Iliescu winning in over 2500 basic administrative units found in the extra-Carpathian area, Maramureș and Hunedoara counties. Emil Constatinescu, the candidate of CDR, won in 465 basic administrative units from the east of Transylvania, the west and north-west of Romania and to a lesser degree in the south.
A regional “cleavage” thus took shape between Transylvania, on one side, and the “Old Kingdom” on the other, confirmed by now multiple rounds of elections, be they presidential, parliamentary or local. The 1990 voters of Câmpeanu from east Banat were now voters of Constatinescu and CDR.
The 1996 parliamentary elections were clearly won by CDR with 30% followed by PDSR with 20% and USD with 13%, representing a clear comeback of the regional electoral trends. CDR won support in Transylvania, Banat and the Capital, while PDSR continued to dominate Muntenia and Moldova. The extremist PRM consolidated its position in western Muntenia, Moldova and some counties of Transylvania which traditionally showed a voting pattern similar with the South and East (Hunedoara, Bihor, Maramureș).
The 1996 presidential campaign somewhat resembled that of 1992. Thus, Emil Constantinescu dominated Banat, Transylvania and the Capital from the first tour of voting, while Iliescu won by crushing margins in some areas of Moldova and eastern Muntenia. CDR’s candidate won – representing the first alternance to power since 1989 – through massive mobilization in Transylvania and Banat, winning between 60 and 80% in some administrative units, 15 out of the 16 counties of the historic region. Moreover, Constantinescu won even in some extra-Carpathian counties like Ilfov, Prahova, Constanța and Galați. Iliescu, however, won most votes in Hunedoara, adding to his 21 out of 25 counties from the “Old Kingdom”.
In the 2000 parliamentary elections, confusion reigned over the electoral and political bodies of Romania due to shifts on the political stage. As a result, Polul Democrației Sociale din Romania, an alliance dominated by PDSR, won in its traditional extra-Carpathian regions, while the nationalist and “justice-seeking” PRM gained support in Transylvania, Oltenia and Dobrogea. In turn, PD and PNL won many votes in Banat and northern Transylvania, the old fiefs of CDR, but also surprises such as Suceava and Teleorman.
The 2000 presidential campaign again presented voting patterns that differ from regional tradition, voters often justifying their 2000 vote through the “lesser evil” principle. Thus, while Iliescu dominated his usual South and East areas composing the “Old Kingdom”, he won even in some fiefs of the right in Banat. Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of PRM, gained support in Transylvania, partly taking over the electorates of CDR, Roman’s USD and PUNR. If in the first round of elections, Tudor won in 700 basic administrative units, in the second one he kept only 478, while the rest of 2400 gave Iliescu as winner.
In the 2008 parliamentary elections, PSD+PC won most votes in the south of Romania, southern and western Moldova, while PDL gained support in most basic administrative units in the north, center and west of Romania. In turn, PNL won most votes in the southern part of Muntenia, eastern Oltenia, eastern Banat and eastern Moldova while UDMR kept its traditional electorate.
In the 2009 presidential elections, Traian Băsescu won most votes in Bucovina, Maramureș, Banat, southern Transylvania and Dobrogea, taking first place in 1152 basic administrative units in the first round of elections. The Romanian Diaspora – North America, Western Europe, Kazakhstan and Austria – voted for Băsescu over Geoană by 35 to 40%.
Mircea Geoană from PSD, winning in 1764 units and with 20% over Băsescu in extra-Carpathian areas, however lost in most of the intra-Carpathian regions by 11% in the first round, and 14% in the second. PNL’s candidate, Crin Antonescu, won in his first and only tour 38% of votes in the west and south-east of Romania and south of Transylvania.
In the end, Mircea Geoană gained an advantage in votes of 390.306 from the “Old Kingdom” and 13.660 from the Capital but this was totally absorbed by Băsescu’s advantage of 389.228 votes in Transylvania and 79% of the Diaspora vote (84.700 votes).
Thus we end our analysis of voter behavior in the two main historical regions of Romania. We have looked over the 18 years that followed the December revolution and I believe we have established a trend. Even in the confusion that reigned in the 2000 elections, the pattern survived. If we consider the 2014 presidential elections, this pattern is still very much alive, kept so by the way we each think about democracy, parties, political figures and our own principles.
BOAMFĂ, Ionel, Atlasul electoral al României 1990-2009, cord. Corneliu Iatu, ed. Universității “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” Iasi, 2013, p. 55-75, p. 81-88, p. 113-115, p. 246-248, p. 333-334
Maps from http://www.deferlari.ro/2014/10/alegeri-prezidentiale-sinteza.html
BODOCAN, Voicu-Nicolae Etnie, confesiune și comportament electoral în Transylvania : studiu geografic, Presa Universitară Clujeană, Cluj-Napoca, 2001
PREDA, Cristian; SOARE, Sorina Regimul, partidele și sistemul politic din România, ed Nemira & Asociația Pro Democrația, București, 2008
EASTON, David A system analysis of political life, John Wiley&Sons, 1965 and “A Framework for Political Analysis” Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall Inc., 1965