The Social Democratic Party (Romanian: Partidul Social Democrat, PSD) is a social democraticpolitical party in Romania. It was founded by Ion Iliescu, Romania‘s first democratically elected president at the 1990 Romanian general election.
The PSD traces its origins to the Democratic National Salvation Front (FDSN), a breakaway group established in 1992 from the post-Communist National Salvation Front (FSN). In 1993, this merged with three other parties to become the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (Romanian: Partidul Democrației Sociale in România, PDSR). The present name was adopted after a merger with the smaller Romanian Social Democratic Party (PSDR) in 2001. Since its formation, it has always been one of the two dominant parties of the country. The PDSR governed Romania from 1992 to 1996, while the PSDR was a junior coalition partner between 1996 and 2000. The merged PSD was the senior party in the coalitions governing from 2000 to 2004, and from March 2014 to November 2015, as well as one of the main coalition partners between December 2008 and October 2009 (with the Democratic Liberal Party) and again between May 2012 and March 2014 (as part of the Social Liberal Union). It is a member of the Progressive Alliance, which was founded in 2013,Socialist International, and Party of European Socialists. As of 2014, the PSD had 509,000 members.[needs update]
The PSD left government after the prime minister Victor Ponta resigned in November 2015, only to return as the senior governing party in January 2017, when it achieved a major victory in the 2016 Romanian legislative election. Party founder Iliescu became the president of Romania, in office from the 1989 to 1996, and again from 2000 to 2004. The largest party in the Parliament of Romania with initially 47 seats in the Senate of Romania and 110 seats in the Chamber of Deputies (as obtained at the 2020 Romanian legislative election), it also has the largest number of mayors, as well as the second largest number of local and county councillors and county presidents, remaining the biggest and most influential political force in the country.
On 7 April 1992, the struggle for power inside the National Salvation Front (Romanian: Frontul Salvării Naționale, FSN) between the more hardline group led by Ion Iliescu and the more reformist group led by Petre Roman resulted in the Iliescu group withdrawing from FSN and the founding of the Democratic National Salvation Front (Romanian: Frontul Democrat al Salvării Naționale, FDSN), which would later become the PDSR until 2003, when it rebranded as the PSD.
The FDSN won the 1992 Romanian general election and went on to govern Romania until 1996. On 10 July 1993, it took the name of Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) upon merger with the Socialist Democratic Party of Romania, the Republican Party, and the Cooperative Party. From 1994 to 1996, the PDSR ruled in coalition with the right-wingRomanian National Unity Party (PUNR) and Greater Romania Party (PRM), and the left-wingSocialist Party of Labour (PSM). The PUNR had ministers in the cabinet chaired by Nicolae Văcăroiu from March 1994 to September 1996. The PRM was not present at the cabinet-level but was given some posts in the state administration. The PDSR went into opposition after the 1996 Romanian general election, which was won by the right-wing coalition Romanian Democratic Convention (CDR).
After four years of governmental turmoil and economic downfall, poorly managed by the crumbling CDR, saw PDSR making a fulminant comeback, winning the 2000 Romanian general election, this time in a coalition named the Social Democratic Pole of Romania (PDSR) along with the Romanian Social Democratic Party (PSDR) and the Romanian Humanist Party (PUR). The PSDR merged with PDSR on 16 June 2001, and the resulting party took the PSD name.
In November 2004, Adrian Năstase, the PSD candidate and incumbent Prime Minister of Romania, won the first round of the presidential elections but did not have a majority and had to go to a second round of voting, which he narrowly lost to Traian Băsescu of the opposition Justice and Truth Alliance, who became Romania’s 4th president. In the 2004 Romanian general election, the PSD gained the largest share of the vote but because it did not have a majority, the other parties that managed to enter parliament, UDMR and PUR, abandoned their respective pre-electoral agreements with the PSD and joined the Justice and Truth Alliance, mainly at the pressure of Băsescu. Mircea Geoană was elected president of the party in April 2005 by delegates at a PSD Party Congress held in Bucharest. His victory represented a surprise defeat for Iliescu, who was expected to defeat Geoană with ease. On 17 April 2008, the PSD and the PC announced they would form a political alliance for the 2008 Romanian local elections.
In February 2010, the Congress elected Victor Ponta as president after Geoană lost the 2009 Romanian presidential election. On 5 February 2011, the PSD formed a political alliance known as the Social Liberal Union (USL) with the PC and the National Liberal Party (PNL). The USL was disbanded on 25 February 2014 with exit of the PNL, which entered the opposition.
In July 2015, Liviu Dragnea was elected by the Congress of the PSD as the new president of the party, with 97% of the votes from the members. He was elected as leader after the former prime minister Victor Ponta stepped down on 12 July 2015 following charges of corruption that were later dropped. On 12 April 2019, the PSD was suspended from the Party of European Socialists (PES) following concerns about judicial reforms of the Dăncilă Cabinet. In May 2019, after Liviu Dragnea‘s jailing, Viorica Dăncilă was elected by the Congress of the PSD as the new president of the party. In 2020, Marcel Ciolacu became president of the party.
After being ousted from power in October 2019, the PSD also lost the 2019 Romanian presidential election. Such decline sent shockwase across the European Union, especially the PES, as it resulted in their loss of power within von der Leyen Commission. Nonetheless, Daniel Hegedüs posited that this could be a win for both the PES and the wider European left, as the PES would regain credibility because “mounting authoritarianism in Hungary and Poland has suffered under the burden of PSD’s rule-of-law record.” In addition, it is a chance for the PSD to reform itself and change its ways.
While the largest party after the 2020 Romanian legislative election, the PSD suffered significant losses and remained the biggest parliamentary opposition. In August 2020, the PSD was willing to vote a motion of no confidence against the Second Orban Cabinet. During the 2021 Romanian political crisis, the PSD was again willing to have such a vote, this time against the Cîțu Cabinet, which it subsequently did, thereby contributing to its final dismissal. In November 2021, successful negotiations with the PNL led the PSD closer to returning government in the incumbent Ciucă Cabinet.