The Central Electoral Bureau (BEC) has announced that there are 13 registered candidates for the presidential election. Of these nine represent political parties while four are independents, they are:
Graziela Elena Bârla (Independent)
Niculae Cerveni (Partidul Liber Democrat Român—Free Democrat Romanian Party)
György Frunda (Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din Romaniâ—Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, UDMR)
Paul Philippe of Hohenzollern (Partidul Reconcilierii Naţionale—National Reconciliation Party)
Ion Iliescu (Partidul Democraţiei Sociale din România—Party for Social Democracy in Romania, PDSR)
Mugur Isârescu (Independent)
Gheorghe Eduard Manole (Independent)
Teodor Meleşcanu (Alianta pentru România—Alliance for Romania Party, ApR)
Lucian Orasel (Independent)
Petre Roman (Partidul Democrat—Democrat Party, PD)
Ion Sasu (Partidul Socialist al Muncii—The Socialist Party of Labor)
Theodor Stolojan (Partidul Naţional Liberal—National Liberal Party, PNL)
Corneliu Vadim Tudor (Partidul România Mare—Greater Romania Party, PRM)
Many legal challenges to the candidates have already been received by the BEC including nine against front-runner Ion Iliescu. Citizens have until 5 November to register any challenge to the validity of candidates. Romanian law requires these to be sent by the BEC to the Constitutional Court within 24 hours. The judgment then has to be published in the Official Gazette within 48 hours.
All recent opinion polls give Iliescu a clear lead although he does not have enough support to win on the first ballot—Romanian law requires a candidate to obtain more than 50 per cent of the vote to win on the first ballot. It is looking more and more likely that a second ballot will be needed. Iliescu would then face the second place candidate in a second ballot. Who that will be is far from clear with Mugur Isârescu, Theodor Stolojan and Corneliu Vadim Tudor all showing a similar level of support.
The presidential election is to take place on 26 November, at the same time as the parliamentary elections. BEC reports that 59 parties, alliances and ethic groups will be seeking to have their representatives elected to parliament.
President Emil Constantinescu represented Romania at the meeting of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) which took place in Skopje (Macedonia) this week. Speaking of the integration of Yugoslavia into SEECP, he said "We have the opportunity to prove that this region can become an example of cooperation, development and prosperity in Europe." (EvZ, 26 October 2000) Part of the agenda gave the leaders of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Bosnia, Croatia and Turkey the opportunity to discuss the navigation of the Danube river. The Danube remains blocked following damage to bridges during the NATO bombing campaign of the Kosovo conflict.
The SEECP Balkan summit, which is sponsored by the European Union, leads into a meeting of the Balkan Stability Pact, which takes place in Bucharest at the weekend. Balkan Stability Pact coordinator Bodo Hombach said, "I am confident that in Bucharest we will take the historic first step towards reintegration of Yugoslavia into the international community." (Nine o'clock, 26 October 2000)
Romania's role in the Pact came in for special comment from Hombach. He praised the constructive manner in which Romania has approached initiatives instigated by the Pact and for their practical approach to the partnership. He clearly stated that Romania had now prepared the foundations for successful economic development and illustrated this by referring to a study carried out by a German bank, which concluded that Romania is a "tiger of the future." (Nine o'clock, 27 October 2000) Hombach continued by listing funding for a range of Romanian infrastructure projects which are to be funded through the Balkan Stability Pact.
European Union concern
Günther Verheugen, the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement has suggested that Romania is unlikely to meet economic admission criteria as it does not have a market economy. This comes at a time when other second-wave states such as Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia are pushing towards integration in 2003 with the original candidate nations. The reality of Verheugen's comments is underlined by reports from Brussels about the negotiation process.
Romania began negotiations on two more chapters of admission criteria this week. However, with a total of only seven of the 31 chapters opened so far, Romania is well behind all the other nations aspiring to EU membership.
Verheugen's statement has resulted in comments from some of the leading candidates for Romania's presidency. Theodor Stolojan (PNL) said that the statement reflected reality, whereas Petre Roman (PD) inferred that, as this had been a bad year for Romania, he was not surprised by the statement. Ion Iliescu (PDSR) and Teodor Melescanu (ApR) concurred that the chances of EU integration had been diminished by poor government. In response, Prime Minister Mugur Isârescu emphasised that Romania had set 2007 as the date for integration, which left enough time to make up for any delays.
Investors take to the streets
Investors in the failed Fondul Naţional de Investiţii (FNI) took to the streets again this week in protest against the government's lack of action. Over 1000 investors marched through Bucharest, waving banners and shouting slogans designed to hit the politicians hardest—slogans about electoral credibility. "Isârescu don't forget, FNI is your responsibility" and "We don't vote for thieves" were prominently displayed and shouted. (Monitorul, 27 October 2000).
Unlike other protests, this one was marked by violence, with fights breaking out as the police tried to prevent protesters from blocking traffic. FNI Investors Association President Ovidiu Mazilescu handed a request for a meeting with the prime minister to the cabinet secretary and said that their demand was simple: compensation payments which matched the value of FNI units on the day they ceased trading.
Another opinion poll?
The Romania Gallup Organisation published the results of a poll this week which investigated relationships between the two sexes in Romanian society. Of the sample of 1839 individuals who took part in the survey, 63 per cent said that a woman's duty was to do the housework with 78 per cent agreeing that a wife should follow the husband's lead.
In contrast, 61 per cent of those questioned believed that the woman is the master of the house while 80 per cent thought that women were more sensible than men. More than half the sample said that they knew of men who hit their partner while two per cent acknowledged that they had been beaten by their wife. Almost half of those interviewed believed that there was no equality between the sexes in Romanian society.
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