Roma political party wins surprise victory in Romanian local elections

By • on July 9, 2012

The Civic Democratic Alliance of Roma (CDAR), a Romanian political party founded in 2011 by a group of young Roma NGOs, had a surprisingly good election score in the local elections held on 10 June. More importantly, it took the young politicians only a few months to convince tens of thousands of Roma to vote for them.

According to the official figures provided by the Central Electoral Bureau, the CDAR candidates for the local elections won twice as many votes as their direct competitor, the “Pro- Europa” Roma Party. The CDAR candidates for the position of county councilors won 24,949 votes, compared to 16,059 for the “Pro- Europa” Roma Party candidates, while 4,937 votes went to the CDAR candidates for presidents of county councils, and 2,912 votes to their contenders from the “Pro-Europa” Roma Party.

“These elections represented the first participation of the Civic Democratic Alliance of Roma    in an electoral competition. CDAR started the electoral race as a volunteer based organization without any state subsidies, any relations to state institutions and without giving electoral bribes in order to influence voters. And it won political votes in a fair competition with another Roma Party. It accumulated politically experience thanks to the 30,000 votes received and it established itself as an organization with genuine support from the Roma communities it represents. Our mandates for local councilors will allow us to prove that we are a viable solution for all the Roma communities in the country”, said Mr. David Mark, the general secretary of CDAR.

“It is noteworthy that the participation of ethnic Roma in these local elections increased from  the trend in recent years, when the “Pro-Europa” Roma Party was the only option available for ethnic Roma. After years of monopoly and lack of political alternatives for Roma people, CDAR offers a real option,” said Mrs. Mirela Faitas, the Vice President of the CDAR. “We would like to thank all the Roma that voted, and all those who voted for CDAR. This vote is the signal that Roma were tired of 20 years of lies and poverty, that they wanted a change for the better. Unfortunately, we had a lot of votes cancelled, and we should make sure that this    won’t happen again in the fall elections. My message to all Romanian Roma is: it’s time to choose our own representatives for the Parliament, it’s time to vote for us and our families, it’s time to be proud to be Roma”, said Mr. Marian Daragiu, the president of CDAR.

According to the last population census organized in Romania in 2011, the official number of Roma is 619,000. Unofficially, the leaders of Roma communities estimated the number at 1.5 – 2 million people. According to the Central Electoral Bureau, about 41,000 Roma voted in the local elections held in June. The Roma leaders say that the voter turnout was very low and that most of the Roma who actually voted did not vote with Roma candidates, but with candidates of non-Roma parties.