Save Romania Union

The Save Romania Union (Romanian: Uniunea Salvați România, USR) was a progressive-liberal political party in Romania, the party was founded following the success of the Save Bucharest Union (USB) party in the 2016 local elections. After being officially registered as a political party in 2016, it united with the local USB and Union for Codlea parties, thus gaining most of its initial membership base from the two latter parties.[15]

Save Romania Union
Uniunea Salvați România
AbbreviationUSR
LeaderNicușor Dan (first)
Dan Barna (last)
Founded21 August 2016
Dissolved16 April 2021
Preceded byUSB
Merged intoUSR PLUS
HeadquartersBlvd. Aviatorilor 9, Bucharest
Youth wingUSR Tineret
Membership (2019)13,619[1]
Ideology
Political positionCentre[11][12][13]
National affiliation2020 USR-PLUS Alliance
European affiliationAlliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe[14]
European Parliament groupRenew Europe
Colours  Blue
SloganO Românie fără hoție (A Romania without thievery)
Senate
17 / 136
Chamber of Deputies
38 / 330
European Parliament
3 / 33
Mayors
20 / 3,176
County Councilors
36 / 1,340
Local Councilors
856 / 39,900
Ministers
4 / 18
[a]
Website
www.usr.ro

a. ^ + a deputy prime minister

Between 2016 and 2020, it was the third largest political party in the Romanian Parliament after the 2016 legislative elections and ran on an anti-corruption platform.[11] In 2019, it established a political alliance with the Freedom, Unity and Solidarity Party (PLUS) with which it eventually merged in 2021 in order to form USR PLUS, currently Romania's third largest party both in the Parliament and locally at nationwide level.

HistoryEdit

USR continued the political project Save Bucharest Union (Romanian: Uniunea Salvați Bucureștiul) at the national level, established on 1 July 2015. At the Save Bucharest Union (USR) kick off conference talking about goals of the new movement, Nicușor Dan stated:[16]

"We are addressing to an entire category of people disappointed on how politics was done so far and, in Bucharest, we are addressing to those cores citizens who began to fight for their rights. (...) We will continue fighting with the public administration of Bucharest. We will talk any time about bizarre spending of the public money, about illegalities, or about the comfort of living or lack of it. We will also come with our vision and our project for Bucharest. We are not distinguishable in the ideological context. What we want to do is very simple, there are several problems we want to solve"

Besides Nicușor Dan, the founding members of the Save Bucharest Union were Ioan Miloș, Alina Vernon, Dan Podaru, and Argentina Traicu,[17] the last two have retreated as founding members and from the Initiative Committee in January 2016.[18]

On 23 February 2016, Nicușor Dan published on his Facebook account the document„Programul pentru București al candidatului Nicușor Dan (Uniunea Salvați Bucureștiul) la Primăria Generală” ("The Bucharest program of the candidate Nicușor Dan (Save Bucharest Union) at the General City Hall"), which he submitted to the public debate.[19]

In 2016, at the local elections, the Save Bucharest Union has obtained in Bucharest a score of 25% and was ranked in second place according to Bucharest's preferences.[20]

On 21 August 2016, Save Bucharest Union (USR) merged with the Union for Codlea and Save Romania Union, the new formation bearing the name Save Romania Union, and participated in the parliamentary elections held in 2016. During the merger congress, Nicușor Dan was elected the president of the party, the vice presidents became Cristian Ghica, Clotilde Armand, Dumitru Dobrev, Roxana Wring, and Erwin Albu.[20] For the legislative elections, Nicușor Dan has predicted at least 10% of votes for the new formation.[21] Officially, the merger process has been hampered by numerous appeals, filed by PSD, PER, and private individuals.[22] By a decision of December 29, 2016 issued by the Bucharest Court of Appeal, the merger remained final.[23]

At the congress held on 28 October 2017 in Poiana Brașov, Dan Barna was elected the new president of the party, for a two-year term.[24]

The fifth National Congress of the USR was held in Timișoara on 14–15 September 2019.[25] At this congress, the leader Dan Barna was reconfirmed as president of the party, at the same time being elected nine vice-presidents,[26] as well as the new members of the National Bureau[27] and the members of the National Commissions of Arbitration and Censors.[28]

Political programEdit

On 5 October 2016, the Save Romania Union launched its political program,[29] with nine chapters on the following areas: transparency, industry, agriculture, education, culture, health, infrastructure, environmental protection and foreign policy.[30] USR militates for maximum transparency, industrialization with modern means, support for small farmers, education reform, a new paradigm in the cultural field, granting 6% of GDP for Health, construction of highways and infrastructure in collaboration with European partners, environmental protection in particular by stopping deforestation, as well as close cooperation with the European Union, NATO, and support for the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine.[31] The president of the USR, Nicușor Dan, said that the program is still in public debate, and could be improved in the nearest future, according to the society's suggestions and recommendations.[32]

In October 2016, the USR declared the public support for the prime minister Dacian Cioloș for a new prime minister mandate, following the December's parliamentary elections.[33] On 26 October 2016, the Save Romania Union (USR) has announced several candidates for the parliamentary elections in 2016.[34] Mihai Goțiu, journalist and civic activist,[35] writer Dan Lungu,[36] former ministers from Cioloș Vlad Vladrescu's cabinet[37] and Cristian Ghinea,[38] with former state secretaries of the cabinet have joined the project.[39]

Ideology and issuesEdit

Dan Barna, the president of USR, characterized the party as "generally centre-right",[11] leaning centre-right on economic policy and centrist in terms of social policy. However, USR has a substantial amount of both progressive and conservative members.[40] He compared the party with Emmanuel Macron's La République En Marche!, while mentioning that the key difference between the two is that USR predominantly consists of people who have not been involved in politics before.[11]

Anti-corruption campaignEdit

Since its foundation USR has supported the anti-corruption drive in Romania and the activity of the National Anticorruption Directorate. USR was against the modifications to the justice laws initiated by the government coalition PSD-ALDE and requested the rejection of OUG 13 (see also the 2017–2019 Romanian protests).

In 2018, USR helped and supported the initiators of Fără Penali în Funcții Publice ("No Convicts in Public Office") civic campaign, whose objective is to bar the persons convicted to final imprisonment sentences for intentional offences from being elected to local government, the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate, or the office of President of Romania by amending the Article 37 of the Romanian Constitution[41] (which regulates the nomination rules). USR and volunteers collected more than 1 million signatures from eligible voters.[42]

MoldovaEdit

USR supports the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) led by Maia Sandu[43] and supports the European path of Moldova.[44] At the June 2018 elections for the Chișinău mayoralty, USR supported the candidate of the pro-European forces, more specifically Andrei Năstase.[45] Subsequently, with the invalidation of the mandate by Judge Rodica Berdilo, Dan Barna stated:[46]

"The invalidation of the vote for putting Andrei Năstase into office in the Chișinău mayoralty shows what can happen when corruption is the rule of a state. The decision of the Chișinău court shows that the interests of the oligarchs do not take into account the democratic processes and can steal the vote of the citizens. What is happening at the moment in Chișinău shows how fierce the fight for democracy and fair justice is in both Romania and Moldova."

LGBT rightsEdit

USR's position on LGBT issues is not clearly defined. The party leader, Dan Barna, declared: "Gay marriage is not yet a subject for the public agenda, there is no initiative promoting same-sex marriage. Maybe in 20, 30 years next generations will take care of this problem, but for now, this is not a priority."[11]

However, USR was the only parliamentary party in Romania that did not support the constitutional referendum, proposed by Coaliția pentru Familie (CpF) and supported by the Romanian Orthodox Church. The constitutional amendment proposed to change the definition of family in order to prohibit the same-sex marriage, however it failed, as the turnout was only 21.1%,[47] below the required voter turnout threshold of 30%.[48][49] USR considered the referendum a way to divide the Romanian people and to distract the attention from the real issues Romania currently faces, such as corruption.[50]

Roșia MontanăEdit

USR supported the inclusion of the Roşia Montană site in UNESCO World Heritage. At the 42nd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, held in Manama, Bahrain, the government's representative, Ștefan Răzvan Rab, state secretary of the Ministry of Culture, in Bahrain, on June 24 to July 4, asked for postponement on behalf of Romania including the Roșia Montană Mining Cultural Landscape in the World Heritage List until the completion of the judicial dispute with Gabriel Resources, an unprecedented fact in the history of UNESCO. USR Senator Vlad Alexandrescu, under whose Ministry of Culture 2015–2016 Roșia Montană was included in the UNESCO indicative list, accused the PSD-ALDE government coalition of treason, writing in a post on 2 July 2018 on Facebook:

"It is Romania's most shameful moment since being a member of UNESCO. All the other states of the world carry a fierce negotiation these days so that their monuments are included in the UNESCO list, and each success is welcomed with cheers and cheers. In contrast to the civilized world is Romania. The only state that has campaigned for its monument not to be on this list. A state seized by a bunch of villains who do not give a damn about the importance of heritage. All they want is to leave UNESCO in peace with their ideas, to make a crater over Roșia Montană so that they can fill their pockets. Of course, the rest of the states know this, not everyone is as "professional" as our government. And so we will be known from now on, those who sell their patrimony for the welfare of their politicians. What you have done here, members and representatives of the Government, is treason. You have acted so that our patrimony is reduced to a crater in the near future. And this will not be without consequences, I promise you!"

European affiliationEdit

USR supports Romania's membership of the European Union and is in favor of a joint European external policy and military and of Romania's accession to the Schengen Area.[51] While not being part of a European political party yet, USR has had negotiations with Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE) and to a lesser extent with the European People's Party and the European Greens. USR's hesitation to join ALDE is due to the fact that a Romanian party they vehemently oppose (the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats) is part of that European party and bears the same acronym.[52]

In May 2019, the party stated[53] that it would take part in the new liberal group in the European Parliament that includes France's La République En Marche!, named Renew Europe in June 2019.

On 30 May 2019, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats withdrew from ALDE.[54] With no more obstacles on its way, USR joined ALDE on 28 June 2019.[55]

Party leadersEdit

Name
born – died
Portrait Term start Term end Duration
1 Nicușor Dan
(1969– )
  28 July 2016 1 June 2017[56] 10 months and 4 days
Elek Levente
(1971– )
1 June 2017[57] 28 October 2017 4 months and 27 days
2 Dan Barna
(1975– )
  28 October 2017[58] Incumbent 3 years, 10 months and 14 days

Electoral historyEdit

Legislative electionsEdit

Election Chamber Senate Position Aftermath
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
2016 625,154 8.87
30 / 329
629,375 8.92
13 / 136
 3rd  Opposition to PSD-ALDE government (2017–2019)
Opposition to PSD minority government (2019)
Supporting PNL minority government (2019–2020)
2020 906,962 15.37
38 / 330
936,862 15.86
17 / 136
 3rd 
(within USR PLUS)
PNL-USR PLUS-UDMR government (2020–present)

Local electionsEdit

Election County Councilors (CJ) Mayors Local Councilors (CL) Popular vote % Position
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
2016 143,544 1.73
15 / 1,434
96,789 1.13
0 / 3,186
121,099 1.44
39 / 40,067
143,544 1.73  7th 
(as USB)
2020 478,659 6.65
36 / 1,340
490,362 6.58
20 / 3,176
504,563 6.85
856 / 39,900
696.478 8.89  3rd 
(within USR PLUS)

Presidential electionsEdit

Election Candidate First round Second round
Votes Percentage Position Votes Percentage Position
2019 Dan Barna1 1,384,450
15.02%
 3rd  not qualified

Notes:

1 Dan Barna was the candidate endorsed by the 2020 USR-PLUS Alliance.

European electionsEdit

Election Votes % MEPs Position EU Party EP Group
2019 2,028,236 22.36
4 / 32
 3rd 
(within 2020 USR-PLUS Alliance)1
Renew Europe (RE)

Notes:

1 2020 USR-PLUS Alliance members: USR and PLUS (4 MEPs).

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External linksEdit