With Ukraine invasion, Romanians’ view on their country improved

In an opinion poll conducted during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Romanians who perceive the country goes in the right direction have almost doubled in a month. The situation seems to remind Romania of the protection the European Union and NATO provide.

NATO French troops deployed in Romania
NATO French troops arrived in Romania on February 28 and March 1 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine | NATO

The first opinion poll in Romania since the start of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops shows that the perception of Romanians of their country has improved.

In early January and February, 18%-20% of Romanians considered the country was heading in the right direction while 74%-77% thought Romania was going in the wrong direction.

But in the most recent poll conducted by the marketing research company INSCOP, almost 36% of Romanians perceived the country was on the right path, up from 20% in February. In the meantime, the more pessimist ones decreased by 22 percentage points, from 77% to 55%, in only a month.

This improvement in the perception of Romania’s future is “the biggest surprise” of the poll Remus Stefureac, head of INSCOP, explains in a Facebook post.

Stefureac sees that “the desperate situation in Ukraine” revealed the real benefits of Romania’s current position. “Russia’s aggression has reminded many of us how important our membership in NATO and the E.U. is to protect our peace, tranquility, life and what this umbrella of security and development means for the right direction of the country.”

NATO activated for the first time in its history the Response Force for collective defense and deterrence with 500 French troops deployed in Romania, which shares 614 km (381 miles) of borders with Ukraine.

While the period is emotionally charged, it’s unsure whether the perception will be temporary of have a lasting effect.

The national opinion poll was conducted by telephone on a representative population sample of 1,077 people during the first week of March. The confidence interval is 3%.

The vast majority of Romanians (75%) think Russia is guilty of the invasion while 5% consider Ukraine is the culprit of the current situation. Moreover, 79% of Romanians agreed with the E.U. and United States sanctions imposed on Russia.

In regards to voting intentions, the biggest change affects the AUR party. This conservative populist political party lost 3.5 percentage points of favorable opinions, from 22.4% to 18.9%, and as such declined from the 2nd to the 3rd most popular party among citizens.

The nationalist Alliance for the Union of Romanians party was created in September 2019 and quickly became popular with its criticism of COVID-19 health restrictions applied by the government. Romania has the second lowest vaccination rate in Europe with 42% of the population who received at least one dose of a vaccine.

But the war in Ukraine took all the attention lately, leaving the pandemic concerns behind. Stefureac considers “the slight decline of the AUR can be explained by the disappearance of the party from the public spotlight, coupled by accusations by media and political opponents of pro-Russian attitudes for some party members or people associated with the party”.

Meanwhile, voting intentions for the National Liberal Party, the ruling party of the coalition government, increased from 16.6% to 19.9%.

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