European Elections in Romania:
Another Fight for Power

, by Ana Alexandrescu

European Elections in Romania: Another Fight for Power

Hoping to lower the gap between internal corruption and Europe, Romania is to decide for its EP representatives on the 25th of November 2007. When our political class seems to be doing nothing besides TV masquerade, and when bribery scandals are so common that they start to lose audience, it is normal to face a general disapproval on behalf of the electorate.

The parliamentary elections come as another fight for power, bringing on the stage values or pseudo-values and some either second-hand actors or uncharismatic debutants. Bucharest is full of banners and posters of a campaign that fails to coherently inform the population about the values promoted by the European Parliament. It merely lets them know that some present politicians are going to promote Romania, whereas their most stringent need would be to know how Europe could be – de facto - of any good to them.

It comes with no surprise that in each country the majority votes according to its national subjects, the only ones that matter, whereas the European Parliament (EP) promotes global issues that sometimes fail to capture the interest of the individual. Even though studies show Romanians as euro-enthusiasts and sociologists forecast a voting turnout above expectations, the average Romanian does not have a clear perception of the EP. Some experts, like Wolfe Murray, however, are more sceptical. They say that not only do the Romanian people have no collective consciousness about the European Parliament, but also they do not understand the role, function or the purpose of this institution.

The elections come as another fight for power, bringing on the stage values or pseudo-values and some either second-hand actors or uncharismatic debutants.

For the majority, the European elections come as another pretext for the internal fight between the Government, led by Calin Popescu Tariceanu, and the President, Traian Basescu, which has been going on for about 3 years, with no positive result. They come as ‘’another invention’’ of the political class.

The Plurality Voting System that Splits the Powers:

Mr. Basescu has been promoting since the beginning of the current year a solution that he sees as an answer to the necessities of the political class, as he declared himself. By introducing the plurality voting system, people would start voting a specific individual they like. This would be 180 degrees different from the current situation, where lists are being promoted by parties, and numerous individuals are just being selected to be voted beforehand.

After endless opposition, the Government comes with a similar law, a compromise meant more to save image than to bring effectiveness.

Now the President asks for a referendum to be held on the same day as the EP elections, for a yes/no solution in this matter. This would be the second referendum this year, as the electorate has already been to the polls back in May, concerning the impeachment of Mr. Basescu. The President won with a detached percent of 74,3% of the 44,04% who voted.

Who is on the lists?

Bucharest is in full campaign: banners hang on its boulevards, free newspapers are being distributed, and shiny faces promising to promote Romania give a large grin on the posters. But who is really behind those lists? Every party is giving a backstage battle to gain popularity, whereas ad-hoc surveys keep on confusing everybody. And thus the excitement of elections has conquered all our politicians, who are like young girls putting their shiny dress for prom, wondering who would take them out.

The situation is becoming ambiguous, though, as a recent report is showing, published by the Coalition for a Clean Parliament (www.sas.org.ro). There are an impressive number of candidates, in their top positions, having the biggest chances to win the elections that do not satisfy the criteria for running the elections. They have been accused for acts of corruption. Most of them had been put on trial for those acts, but none of them was officially found guilty.

For example, Adrian Severin, whom you probably know already, since he has been amongst our delegates at Strasbourg, is currently occupying the second position on the lists of the Social Democratic Party. He has received in 1991, according to a report of the Government Controlling Body, a house from the local authorities, and another one for his parents in law; although none of them was fulfilling the conditions required (they were all in the possession of a personal house in Bucharest at that time). He had had afterwards a protocol luxurious villa in use, for a modest rent, which he used for many years, although he was not in the position to use it for such a long period.

Daniel Daianu, in second position for the National Liberal Party, and former Minister of Finance, has been for 3 years officer of the Extreme Information Section for the Political Police, known as ‘’Securitatea’’, during the Communist regime, fact that he made public after the Revolution. There are no other accusations on his name for having had any other implications in the Political Police, however. Besides these, he has a very impressive CV.

(For more information, please see www.sas.org.ro)

In the end, we are left with the hope that 25th November might be a lucky day. We hope our representatives become more European once moving to Strasbourg and come back more open, more enthusiastic and less corrupt. Still, there are the ones remaining back home, unwilling to give away their old habits. There are not many courageous enough to expose themselves to the change and to the risk of losing contact with internal ‘’affairs’’, willing to leave their cosy place here, in the country.

Images depicting the election campaign and posters covering the streets and walls of Bucharest were provided by the author herself (cc) Ana Alexandrescu, October 2007.

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