Election campaign launched
The presidential and parliamentary electoral campaign officially began on 12 October, 45 days before polling takes place. Candidates have until 26 October to register their intention to stand for office. The campaign officially ends on 23 November, leaving three clear days before polling begins at seven o'clock in the morning on 26 November. Polling stations remain open until nine o'clock in the evening.
Commentators see the four leading contenders in the presidential contest as Ion Iliescu of the Party for Social Democracy in Romania (Partidul Democraţiei Sociale din România, PDSR), Theodor Stolojan of the National Liberal Party (Partidul Naţional Liberal, PNL), Corneliu Vadim Tudor of the Greater Romania Party (Partidul România Mare, PRM) and the independent candidate, Mugur Isârescu. Latest opinion polls give Iliescu the lead in the presidential race and PDSR the lead in the parliamentary contest.
Prime Minister Mugur Isârescu formally announced his candidature for the presidency only hours before the campaign started. He said: "It hasn't been an easy decision to make for me, but I've taken it after a long reflection and now I can say I'm ready." (Monitorul, 13 October 2000) Isârescu is to have no party allegiance. He is standing on a platform that promises to maintain Romania's economic recovery and to continue to seek integration into the Euro-Atlantic institutions.
In a low-key start to his campaign, Isârescu appeared alone, without the trappings that have been associated with other candidates. He concluded: "I am running because I nurture a belief in the chances for the Romanian people, in their qualities and particular intelligence, in their right to a decent life." (Nine o'clock, 12 October 2000)
The present ruling coalition, the Democratic Convention of Romania (Convenţia Democrata din România, CDR), will not take part in the forthcoming election. Disagreements between the coalition partners have led to its dissolution. However, the senior partner in the coalition, the National Christian Democratic Peasant Party (Partidul Naţional Ţărănesc Creştin Democrat, PNŢCD), has been able to establish a new coalition called CDR 2000.
The new alliance will be composed of the PNŢCD, the Romanian Ecological Federation (Federaţia Ecologist Român, FER), the Union of Rightist Forces (Uinuna Forţelor de Dreapta, UFD) and the Christian Democratic National Alliance (Alianţa Naţionala Creştin Democrata, ANCD).
Already CDR 2000 has courted controversy. Until now, political alliances had to be registered in court before they could be registered with the Central Electoral Bureau (BEC). CDR 2000 was challenged in the Bucharest Municipality Court by an alleged phantom political party, named Generation 2000, on the basis that they would confuse the electorate. This objection was to be heard after the deadline for candidature had passed, therefore, CDR 2000 would not have been able to take part in the parliamentary elections.
Resolution has come from the Government, which passed an emergency ordinance amending the electoral law. Registration will now only take four days. The amended process still allows for challenges and appeals to take place in the courts. As a result, CDR 2000 should be able to register before 26 October and hence take part in the elections. The alliance is seen to be one of the key challengers to PDSR.
...and party lists
The next task of the political parties is to prepare their candidate priority lists for the electoral districts. Already conflict abounds, as current members of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate are faced with the probability of loosing their seats as a result of their position on the list. The root cause of problems in all the parties seems to be the overriding of selections made at local party level by the national party organisation to ensure that key candidates are appointed.
There are reports of resignations from party membership, closing down of local branches not prepared to accept a national decision and harsh, inflammatory words. Ioan Berciu, PNŢCD Member of the Chamber of Deputies, was removed as local first choice in Alba County. He said that another candidate, former Premier Victor Ciorbea, had been imposed on the electorate by force, threats and other unscrupulous means. Berciu made a further personal attack on PNŢCD First Vice President Ioan Mureşan and was subsequently suspended from party membership. Similar problems have also been attributed to the PNL and the Democratic Party (Partidul Democrat, PD)
Relations with Yugoslavia
Following a visit to Belgrade on 10 October, Foreign Minister Petre Roman reported that he had had a successful meeting with Yugoslavian President Vojislav Koštunica. Key elements in the discussions were the resumption of bilateral relations, Romanian help in reconstruction and the clearance of bomb damage from the River Danube so as to return it to a navigable waterway. Speaking of the friendship between the two countries, Roman said: "Let the past be the past. Romania and Yugoslavia now have a very solid base to re-launch political and economic ties." (Reuters, 11 October 2000)
At an extraordinary meeting of the Government, it was decided that Romania, in line with the action of the European Union, would lift sanctions against Yugoslavia. Prime Minister Isârescu said, "I dream of seeing relations among the countries in Southeast Europe improve rapidly and those projects which were postponed being re-launched." (Nine o'clock, 11 October 2000)
He continued by saying that he has already asked that Yugoslavia be invited to take part in the summit of Southeast European countries which takes place in November. Isârescu also announced that the Romanian presence in Belgrade is to be upgraded to Embassy status.
A transplant operation took place this week at the Fundeni Clinical Institute. Previous to this operation, transplanting a piece of liver from a mother to her baby daughter had only been done in Germany and Japan.
The German surgeons who assisted with the operation said that they were very impressed by the high standard of work displayed by the Romanian team, which was led by Professor Irinel Popescu. Professor Popescu said: "We needed experienced doctors to assist us in the first procedure we performed. From now on, Romanian doctors will be able to perform such procedures by themselves." (Nine o'clock, 12 October 2000)
- Archive of Romanian news reviews
- Archive of Catherine Lovatt's articles on Romania and Moldova
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Buy English-language books on Romania through CER
- Return to CER front page
Evenimentul zilei/EvZ online