Romania’s most powerful politician plays the gender equality card

The president of the Romanian Social Democrats declared his intention to select men and women in equal numbers for the party leadership this week. But analysts say he may have done so to promote a hidden political agenda.

Ana Maria Luca
Ana Maria Luca NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Romania’s most powerful politician plays the gender equality card - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

Liviu Dragnea, leader of the ruling Social Democrats, may appear to some as a staunch supporter of women in politics.

Over 4,000 Social Democrats will come to Bucharest on March 10 to choose new regional leaders. Dragnea will remain head of the party, but he declared a wish to have 8 women and 8 men as his 16 vice-presidents.

Dragnea has said many times during the past year that he "likes women.”

Dragnea’s closest allies and supporters in the party are indeed women. Many of them, including Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, are conservatives who never fail to show up in Romanian traditional attire at party meetings and support the ban on same-sex marriage, despite saying they support women’s rights.

Looking closely at Dragnea's actions rather than his words, one sees a different picture. It could very well be that the leader of the Social Democrats is trying to appeal to women in order to steal supporters away from the increasingly popular female mayor of Bucharest -- and likely 2019 presidential candidate -- Gabriela Firea.

Dragnea might be willing to flirt with feminism, but his agenda is likely to remain conservative when it comes to gender issues.

politics, genderwomen's issues

Details from the story:

  • The Social Democrat Party will hold its national congress on March 10, and its leader Liviu Dragnea is set to secure his position for another year.
  • The stakes are high in the elections for the 16 vice-presidents after the current party leadership changed the rules and decided that every region’s representatives would vote for one man and one woman from their area.
  • The move radically changes that balance of power in the party, diminishing the influence of the Bucharest branch, including Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea, whose popularity is growing
  • Under previous rules, vice-presidents were chosen in order of voting popularity, but from March 10 Bucharest will only have two vice-presidents.
  • Firea, also a conservative, threatened to resign if the party and the government keep blocking her development projects for the Romanian capital.
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