far-right, protests, counter-hegemony, ceremonial revolutions, Romania


This study investigates the far-right counter-hegemonic discourses employed in Romania during the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out and the promotion of green certificates. Using an array of traditional and occult symbols as well as religious iconography, the protests held by the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) employed ritualistic ceremonies and espoused counter-hegemonic discourses that confronted the authorities’ with the extreme religio-nationalist idea of “Romanianness”.

Methodologically, this study combines digital ethnography of more than 30 protests in 2021-2022, with data collected from both social and conventional media as well as visual analysis of relevant discourses. The results show that the  iconography of analysed protests can be interpreted as new rituals of rebellion against the authorities’ decisions to restrict the movement of people. Likewise, AUR’s on-the-ground discourse conveyed new counter-hegemonic that rejected neo-liberal ideals. Moreover, the analysis reveals that the performance styles used during the demonstrations show striking similarities with the January 6th Insurrection in the United States.


Download data is not yet available.


Abăseacă, Raluca. 2018. “Collective Memory and Social Movements in Times of Crisis: The Case of Romania.” Nationalities Papers 46 (4): 671–84. https://doi.org/10.1080/00905992.2017.1379007.

Adi, Ana, and Darren Lilleker. 2017. “#rezist – Romania’s 2017 Anti-Corruption Protests: Causes, Development and Implications.”. Berlin: Quadriga University. http://www.romanianprotests.info/. (Accessed on 23.02.2022).

Andrei, Cristian. 2022. “A year with AUR | How the reality-show party got first on Facebook, second in the polls.” Europa Liberă România, 2022, sec. Politică. https://romania.europalibera.org/a/aur-locul-2-in-sondaje-partid-anti-certificat/31633545.html. (Accessed on 10.07.2022).

Apter, Andrew. 1983. “In Dispraise of the King: Rituals ‘Against’ Rebellion in South-East Africa.” Man 18 (3): 521–34. https://doi.org/10.2307/2801595.

Aronoff, Myron J., and Jan Kubik. 2013. Anthropology and Political Science: A Convergent Approach. Berghahn Books.

Balci, Ali, and Filiz Cicioglu. 2020. “Turkey in the Discourse of European Far Right: The Uses and Abuses of Turkey’s Membership Process for a Counter-Hegemony.” Journal of Contemporary European Studies 28 (1): 100–113. https://doi.org/10.1080/14782804.2019.1677574.

Bambu, Radu. 2021. “Conspiracies and anti-vaccination messages, last massively in the end.” Paginademedia.ro. 2021. https://www.paginademedia.ro/stiri-media/conspiratii-si-mesaje-antivaccinare-facebook-20452003. (Accessed on 23.02.2022).

Bieber, Florian. 2020a. Debating Nationalism: The Global Spread of Nations. Bloomsbury Publishing.

———. 2020b. “Global Nationalism in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Nationalities Papers, April, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1017/nps.2020.35.

Boulianne, Shelley, Karolina Koc-Michalska, and Bruce Bimber. 2020. “Right-Wing Populism, Social Media and Echo Chambers in Western Democracies.” New Media & Society 22 (4): 683–99. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444819893983.

Burean, Toma, and Gabriel Badescu. 2014. “Voices of Discontent: Student Protest Participation in Romania.” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 47 (3–4): 385–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.postcomstud.2014.10.004.

Bustikova, Lenka. 2019. Extreme Reactions: Radical Right Mobilization in Eastern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108697248.

Caiani, Manuela, and Enrico Padoan. 2020. “Setting the Scene: Filling the Gaps in Populism Studies.” Partecipazione e Conflitto. 13/1: 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1285/i20356609v13i1p01.

Carroll, William K. 2006. “Hegemony, Counter-Hegemony, Anti-Hegemony.” Socialist Studies/Études Socialistes. Fall: 9–43 https://doi.org/10.18740/S44G7K.

Chirileasa, Andrei. 2021. “RO Media Gets EUR 15.7 Millions from Govt. to Promote COVID-19 Safety Measures.” Romania Insider. January 5, 2021. https://www.romania-insider.com/ro-media-govt-money-covid-promo-jan-2021. (Accessed on 15.03.2022).

Chiruta, Ionut. 2020. “Using the Past in Populist Communicational Strategies: How the Memory of Securitate Is Instrumentalised in Romanian Politics?” Populism 3 (2): 223–56. https://doi.org/10.1163/25888072-BJA10013.

———. 2021. “Challenging the Rule of Law in Romania: The Metamorphosis of Political Discourse Towards Populism.” Problems of Post-Communism 0 (0): 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/10758216.2021.1958690.

Cinpoeş, Radu. 2013. “Right-Wing Extremism in Romania.” In Right-Wing Extremism in Europe: Country Analyses, Counter-Strategies and Labor-Market Oriented Exit Strategies, edited by Ralf Melzer and Sebastian Serafin. Berlin: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Forum BerlinL 169–198.

Custodi, Jacopo. 2021. “Nationalism and Populism on the Left: The Case of Podemos.” Nations and Nationalism 27 (3): 705–20. https://doi.org/10.1111/nana.12663.

Daphi, Priska, Sebastian Haunss, Moritz Sommer, and Simon Teune. 2021. “Taking to the Streets in Germany – Disenchanted and Confident Critics in Mass Demonstrations.” German Politics 0 (0): 1–29. https://doi.org/10.1080/09644008.2021.1998459.

Dascalu, Stefan, Oana Geambasu, Catalin Valentin Raiu, Doina Azoicai, Emilian Damian Popovici, and Cristian Apetrei. 2021. “COVID-19 in Romania: What Went Wrong?” Frontiers in Public Health 9. https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpubh.2021.813941. (Accessed 23.02.2022).

De Cillia, Brooks, and Patrick McCurdy. 2020. “No Surrender. No Challenge. No Protest Paradigm: A Content Analysis of the Canadian News Media Coverage of the ‘Yellow Vest Movement’ and the ‘United We Roll Convoy.’” Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue Canadienne de Sociologie 57 (4): 656–80. https://doi.org/10.1111/cars.12304.

Despa, Oana. 2021. “’Don’t vote for the green certificate. We set you on fire ‘ What do those who sent threatening messages to parliamentarians say.” Europa Liberă România, November 25, 2021, sec. Politică. https://romania.europalibera.org/a/amenintare-paralamentari/31578546.html. (Accessed on 09.02.2022).

Despa, Oana, and Bianca Albu. 2021. “In ‘Echo-Chambers’ of Nationalist Romanian Party, Russia’s Favourite Narratives.” Balkan Insight (blog). October 8, 2021. https://balkaninsight.com/2021/10/08/in-echo-chambers-of-nationalist-romanian-party-russias-favourite-narratives/. (Accessed on 09.02.2022).

Digi24. 2021. “Romania has exceeded one million fully immunized people.” March 29, 2021. https://www.digi24.ro/stiri/actualitate/romania-a-depasit-peste-un-milion-de-persoane-complet-imunizate-1477413. (Accessed on 09.02.2022).

Doiciar, Claudia, and Remus Creţan. 2021. “Pandemic Populism: COVID-19 and the Rise of the Nationalist AUR Party in Romania.” Geographica Pannonica 25 (4): 243–59. https://doi.org/10.5937/gp25-33782.

Endresen, Cecilie. 2012. “Romania’s Saving Angels: ‘New Men’, Orthodoxy and Blood Mysticism in the Legionary Movement”. Bulletin for the Study of Religion 41 (2): 16–22. https://doi.org/10.1558/bsor.v41i2.16.

Engesser, Sven, Nicole Ernst, Frank Esser, and Florin Büchel. 2017. “Populism and Social Media: How Politicians Spread a Fragmented Ideology.” Information, Communication & Society 20 (8): 1109–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1207697.

G4Media. 2021. “SURVEY Army and Church, first in the top of the trust of Romanians.” G4Media.ro. December 17, 2021. https://www.g4media.ro/sondaj-armata-si-biserica-primele-in-topul-de-incredere-al-romanilor-partidele-politice-guvernul-parlamentul-si-presedintia-la-coada-clasamentului.html. (Accessed on 28.01.2022).

Gherghina, Sergiu, and Sergiu Miscoiu. 2014. “A Rising Populist Star: The Emergence and Development of the PPDD in Romania.” Debatte: Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe 22 (2): 181–97. https://doi.org/10.1080/0965156X.2014.959325.

Gherghina, Sergiu, and Sergiu Mișcoiu. 2022. “Faith in a New Party: The Involvement of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the 2020 Election Campaign.” Politics, Religion & Ideology 23 (2): 226–42. https://doi.org/10.1080/21567689.2022.2080669.

Gherghina, Sergiu, and Sorina Soare. 2013. “From TV to Parliament: Populism and Communication in the Romanian 2012 Elections.” SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 2370006. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2370006.

Gluckman, Max. 1954. Rituals of Rebellion in South-East Africa: The Frazer Lecture, 1952. Manchester: University Press.

Goldstein, Ariel Alejandro. 2019. “The New Far-Right in Brazil and the Construction of a Right-Wing Order.” Latin American Perspectives 46 (4): 245–62. https://doi.org/10.1177/0094582X19846900.

Gramsci, Antonio. 2011. Prison Notebooks. Translated by Joseph A. Buttigieg. Slp edition. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Gubernat, Ruxandra, and Henry P. Rammelt. 2021. “‘Vrem o Ţară ca Afară!’: How Contention in Romania Redefines State-Building through a Pro-European Discourse.” East European Politics and Societies 35 (1): 247–68. https://doi.org/10.1177/0888325419897987.

Hockenos, Paul. 2013. Free to Hate: The Rise of the Right in Post-Communist Eastern Europe. Routledge.

Hopkins, Valerie. 2020. “Far-Right Party Changes Political Landscape in Romania.” Financial Times, December 14, 2020. https://www.ft.com/content/040ab76c-cbef-4f2d-9b88-9f2d9ae7acfd.

Jagers, Jan, and Stefaan Walgrave. 2007. “Populism as Political Communication Style: An Empirical Study of Political Parties’ Discourse in Belgium.” European Journal of Political Research 46 (3): 319–45. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6765.2006.00690.x.

Khosravinik, Majid. 2017. “Right Wing Populism in the West: Social Media Discourse and Echo Chambers.” Insight Turkey 19 (3): 53–68.

Kubik, Jan. 1994. The Power of Symbols Against the Symbols of Power: The Rise of Solidarity and the Fall of State Socialism in Poland. 1st edition. University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Laclau, Ernesto. 2005. On Populist Reason. London; New York: Verso.

Laclau, Ernesto, and Chantal Mouffe. 2001. Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. London; New York: Verso.

Marincea, Andreea. 2022. “Who is AUR supported by: the route from the priests of the Orthodox Church to neo-legionarism. The camaraderie between Simion and the New Right.” Libertatea. February 1, 2022. https://www.libertatea.ro/opinii/de-cine-este-sprijinit-aur-ruta-de-la-preotii-din-biserica-ortodoxa-catre-neolegionarism-camaraderia-dintre-simion-si-noua-dreapta-3953723. (Accessed on 06.07.2022).

Martuscelli, Carlo. 2021. “Romania Asks for Emergency Help from the EU to Fight Coronavirus.” POLITICO. October 15, 2021. https://www.politico.eu/article/romania-asks-for-emergency-help-from-the-eu-to-fight-coronavirus/. (Accessed on 28.01.2022).

Mihailescu, Alexandru. 2022. “Avangarde survey commissioned by PSD: Social Democrats lead in the electorate’s preferences with 35%, followed by PNL with 20% and AUR with 12%.” G4Media.ro. July 6, 2022. https://www.g4media.ro/sondaj-avangarde-la-comanda-psd-social-democratii-conduc-in-preferintele-electoratului-cu-35-urmati-de-pnl-cu-20-si-aur-cu-12.html.

Mudde, Cas. 2017. “Politics at the Fringes?: Eastern Europe’s Populists, Racists, and Extremists.” In The Routledge Handbook of East European Politics, edited by Adam Kagan. Routledge.

———. 2019. The Far Right Today. Cambridge; Medford: Polity Press.

Nahoi, Ovidiu. 2021. “București, 21 decembrie 2021: ”Ur-fascismul” în action.” RFI România: Actualitate, informaţii, ştiri în direct. December 22, 2021. https://www.rfi.ro/politica-140947-bucuresti-decembrie-2021-ur-fascism-actiune. (Accessed on 06.07.2022).

Navumau, Vasil. 2019. “Social Media as a Source of Counter-Hegemonic Discourses: Micro-Level Analysis of the Belarusian ‘Silent Actions’ Protest Movement.” Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization 27 (3): 287–317.

Norocel, Ov Cristian. 2010. “Romania Is a Family and It Needs a Strict Father: Conceptual Metaphors at Work in Radical Right Populist Discourses.” Nationalities Papers 38 (5): 705–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/00905992.2010.498465.

———. 2011. “Heteronormative Constructions of Romanianness: A Genealogy of Gendered Metaphors in Romanian Radical-Right Populism 2000–2009.” Debatte: Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe 19 (1–2): 453–70. https://doi.org/10.1080/0965156X.2011.626121.

Norocel, Ov Cristian, and Gabriella Szabó. 2019. “Mapping the Discursive Opportunities for Radical-Right Populist Politics across Eastern Europe.” Problems of Post-Communism 66 (1): 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1080/10758216.2019.1537040.

Palonen, Emilia, and Liv Sunnercrantz. 2021. “Nordic Populists as Hegemony Challengers.” In The Nordic Economic, Social and Political Model, edited by Anu Koivunen, Jari Ojala, Janne Holmén, 153-176. London: Routledge.

Pantazi, Cristian. 2022. “The extremist AUR party started a campaign against G4Media: “Let’s see which are the most toxic and fake media outlets” G4Media.ro. January 26, 2022. https://www.g4media.ro/partidul-extremist-aur-a-inceput-o-campanie-impotriva-g4media-haideti-sa-vedem-care-sunt-cele-mai-toxice-si-false-organe-de-presa-de-ce-catalogam-aur-ca-partid-de-extrema-dreapta.html. (Accessed on 08.07.2022).

Pop-Eleches, Grigore. 2008. “A Party for All Seasons: Electoral Adaptation of Romanian Communist Successor Parties.” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 41 (4): 465–79. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.postcomstud.2008.09.004.

Pratt, Nicola. 2004. “Bringing Politics Back in: Examining the Link between Globalization and Democratization.” Review of International Political Economy 11 (2): 311–36. https://doi.org/10.1080/0969229042000249831.

Reman, Lia. 2020. “The Orthodox Church, one of the driving forces that propelled AUR in the parliamentary campaign” G4Media.ro. December 9, 2020. https://www.g4media.ro/biserica-ortodoxa-una-dintre-fortele-motrice-care-au-propulsat-aur-in-campania-pentru-parlamentare-serviciile-prestate-de-claudiu-tarziu-si-de-avocata-diana-sosoaca-pentru-biserica-ordodoxa-in-tim.html. (Accessed on 28.01.2022).

Rise Project. 2021. “How the Money Are Pouring in AUR?” Rise Project (blog). May 25, 2021. https://www.riseproject.ro/articol/cum-circula-banii-in-aur/.

Schroter, Susanne. 2003. “Rituals of Rebellion-Rebellion as Ritual: A Theory Reconsidered.” In The Dynamics of Changing Rituals: The Transformation of Religious Rituals Within Their Social and Cultural Context, edited by Jens Kreinath, Constance Hartung, and Annette Deschner: New York, NY: Peter Lang, 41–58.

Simina, Anca. 2021. “PODCAST. How much does rural Romania wants the vaccine.” Recorder (blog). January 22, 2021. https://recorder.ro/satul-paralel-cat-de-mult-isi-doreste-romania-rurala-vaccinul-anti-covid/. (Accessed on 06.07.2022).

Smrčková, Markéta. 2009. “Comparison of Radical Right-Wing Parties in Bulgaria and Romania: The National Movement of Ataka and the Great Romania Party.” Středoevropské Politické Studie 11 (1): 48–65.

Tapalaga, Dan. 2022. “High tensions in GOLD. George Simion, supreme leader over an army of orcs.” G4Media.ro. February 19, 2022. https://www.g4media.ro/tensiuni-mari-in-aur-george-simion-lider-maxim-peste-o-armata-de-orci.html. (Accessed on 08.07.2022).

Vesalon, Lucian, and Remus Creţan. 2015. “‘We Are Not the Wild West’: Anti-Fracking Protests in Romania.” Environmental Politics 24 (2): 288–307. https://doi.org/10.1080/09644016.2014.1000639.

Volk, Sabine. 2020. “‘Wir Sind Das Volk!’ Representative Claim-Making and Populist Style in the PEGIDA Movement’s Discourse.” German Politics 29 (4): 599–616. https://doi.org/10.1080/09644008.2020.1742325.

Vulcan, Dora. 2022. “AUR’s anti-Semitic messages. Why students need to study the Holocaust.” Europa Liberă România, 2022. https://romania.europalibera.org/a/mesajele-antisemite-ale-aur-sancționate-de-ambasadorul-david-saranga-și-institutul-elie-wiesel-/31639253.html. (Accessed in 19.08.2022).

Waisbord, Silvio. 2018. “The Elective Affinity between Post-Truth Communication and Populist Politics.” Communication Research and Practice 4 (1): 17–34. https://doi.org/10.1080/22041451.2018.1428928.



2022-12-30 — Updated on 2023-01-26

How to Cite

Chiruta, I. (2023). "NIHIL SINE DEO" IN FAR-RIGHT PROTESTS: CEREMONIAL REVOLUTIONS DURING ANTI-VACCINE PROTESTS IN ROMANIA. Ethnologia Polona, 43. https://doi.org/10.23858/ethp.2022.43.3045