The president of Romania’s opposition Save Romania Union (USR), Nicusor Dan, resigned on June 1 after the party leadership decided to take a stand against a proposed referendum on outlawing gay marriage.
Dan’s resignation is unlikely to halt the already decreasing support for the USR, and it could pave the way for a comeback by Romania’s other main opposition party, the National Liberal Party, which will soon elect a new president after its disappointing results in last year’s parliamentary elections.
The USR announced that a new president will be appointed within 15 days, after party leaders decided to have “an implicit option” in the debate on marriage, namely to support same-sex marriage.
Specifically, the USR's leading body opted to oppose the initiative of the senior ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD), which wants to amend the constitution to allow only traditional marriage by holding a public referendum. USR MPs will vote against the referendum planned by the PSD.
Dan had argued that the party’s main focus should remain anti-corruption, the rhetoric that made the non-government organisation Save Bucharest Union perform well in the 2016 local elections helping it to quickly evolve into the successful national party (the USR) and take a significant 10% share of seats in parliament in the same year.
He felt that supporting same-sex marriage would make it in the eyes of the voters a party of LGBT rights, and not the country’s main anti-corruption political force. Dan, who was re-elected USR president only three weeks earlier, has constantly said that the party should remain neutral on this topic to avoid alienating voters as the party had gained votes from both traditionalist and progressive segments of society. Only 20 to 30% of the electorate hold progressive views.
“I will not be part of a party that defines itself as [a party of LGBT] civil rights,” Dan stated.
Dan’s resignation is only the latest step of a chain of internal tensions within the USR, which has failed to deliver on its rhetoric during the electoral campaign. Dan had defended the party, though, and announced that soon USR will give a round-up of its activity in parliament. However, the party has mostly been in the media because of tensions between Dan and Cristian Ghinea, who holds progressive views on marriage and wants to bring former Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos into the party.
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