Neo-fascist parties gear up for Romania election

By Petru Clej, January 12, 2012
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Tudor Ionescu

Tudor Ionescu

Two parties which both claim to be the political heirs of the interwar pro-fascist movement the Iron Guard have announced they will be running in parliamentary elections in Romania later this year.

The leader of the far-right organisation The New Right, Tudor Ionescu, submitted 30,000 signatures to support the registration of his Nationalist Party (PN). He said its aim was to "save the Romanian state and nation".

Mr Ionescu said the new party had a 25-point programme which would propel Romania to become one of the top 15 countries of the world, but did not elaborate on his proposals.

Another party claiming to be carrying the mantle of the Iron Guard, the Party for the Fatherland (PPP), has announced its intention to submit candidates for parliamentary elections.

Neither of these parties is likely to gain the five per cent of votes required for parliamentary representation, but their campaigns coincide with popular disenchantment with Romania's ruling elites, accused of corruption and kow-towing to "outside forces" - usually the European Union, Nato, the IMF or the World Bank.

Since Romania's legislation bans fascist, racist and xenophobic organisations, the far right does not use openly antisemitic language in public, concentrating instead on targets such as the Roma community, the Hungarian minority and gays. They also revere Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, the rabidly antisemitic leader of the Iron Guard, assassinated in 1938 on the orders of King Carol II.

Many far-right sympathisers are openly hostile to the admission by Romania of any responsibility for the Holocaust.

In 2003, a government-appointed commission chaired by Elie Wiesel issued a report which blamed Ion Antonescu's pro-fascist dictatorship for the deaths of 280,000 to 380,000 Jews from 1940 -1944.

Although Holocaust denial is a crime, as well as the cult-worship of figures such as Antonescu, in nearly 10 years only nine people have been prosecuted for these offences and only three convictions secured.

Among the most prominent deniers of Romania's involvement in the Holocaust is Ion Coja, 69, a professor of Romanian at Bucharest University, and former senator (1992 – 1996).

A defender of both the Iron Guard and Nicolae Ceausescu, the last Communist dictator in Romania, Coja has been investigated for Holocaust denial but it is unclear if he was ever charged. Coja attempted to run for presidency in 2009 but failed to muster the minimum 200,000 signatures to support his candidature.

    Last updated: 12:16pm, January 12 2012