Romanian party likened to the fascist Legionnaires: ‘An ultra-conservative, ultra-Orthodox, nationalist and xenophobic party’ by science journal

Foto: Inquam Photos / Ilona Andrei

Two Romanian researchers have published  a study on Romania’s far-right AUR party in science journal Nature, headlined „The Hate Speech Revised in the Romanian Political Discourse: from the Legion of the Archangel Michael (1927-1941) to AUR (2020-present)”.

Oana Celia Gheorghiu, a university lecturer at the „Dunărea de Jos” University of Galați, where she teaches Cultural Studies and Translation Studies, and Alexandru Praisler (lecturer at the „Dunărea de Jos” University of Galați) analyzed the rise of the party which came fourth in 2020 parliamentary elections.

The two researchers looked at speeches made by one of the party’s leaders and compared it with „the incendiary discourse that paved the way for the Legionnaires to come to power in 1940”.

It says AUR, the Alliance for the Union of Romanians, is an ‘ultra-conservative, ultra-Orthodox, nationalist and xenophobic,’ group which advocates  for „family, nation, Christian faith and freedom.”

The party, which was created in 2019 campaigned on social media and in the poorer rural areas of Romania,  came out of nowhere to upset the political class and take fourth place in the 2020 parliamentary elections.

Like the Legionnaires, AUR seeks to whitewash history and manipulate the past, the paper says. The authors say the narratives could spread as ‘at least for now, they seem to be rejected as exotic and harmless, being usually perceived as a lesser evil than the one they represent in reality.’

The report says that the party’s architect and founder Sorin Lavric, who plays a background role compared to the party’s other vocal leaders,  represents a ‘greater threat to democracy and normality.’

Like the interwar far-right Legionnaires, Lavric’s hate speech is ‘militant, antagonistic, ultranationalist, and Orthodox,’ it says.

It ‘objects to women and targets the Other, although anti-Semitism has been replaced by an anti-Jewish policy that degrades ethnic groups (especially Roma and Hungarians) and denies gender identity.’

Here are some excerpts from the article:

The dominant features of Romanian right extremism are xenophobia, chauvinism, racism (less pronounced), ultranationalism mixed with religious beliefs, revisionism, self-victimisation, the (partial or total) denial of the Holocaust, the cult of ancestral heroes and martyrs, traditionalism, antisemitism without Jews (one of the paradoxes of the post-communist radical right), anticapitalism, antiliberalism and anti-Westernism. (Mădroane 2013: p. 258).

AUR voters are clearly conservative, for example opposing abortion rights, same-sex marriage and immigration. This finding matches the position of the AUR in the Romanian political landscape, based on its political programme, where the party displays a mix of deeply conservative stances on the cultural dimension but is moderately left-wing on the economic dimension. (Stoica et al. 2021).

Indeed, some hasten to consider them just a populist, more vocal/radical extension of another Romanian party, the Social Democratic Party (PSD), whose name is self-explanatorily leftist.

Both the Legion and AUR are animated by ultranationalism, both are mystic Orthodoxist (ready to promote rigid Orthodoxy, which justifies the unavoidable allusion to the distinction between Islam and Islamism), both rely on antagonist strata—intellectuals and journalists, who construct the discourse of hatred, and the uneducated, who rally to the principles enounced, with or without a clear understanding of them.


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