The Presidential election—second ballot
Sunday 10 December is the day of the second ballot in the Presidential election. The two contenders for this key post are Ion Iliescu of the Party for Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) and Corneliu Vadim Tudor of the Greater Romania Party (PRM). In the first ballot, held on 26 November, Iliescu took 36.35 per cent of the vote while Tudor took 28.34 per cent.
Tudor and his party continue to express antagonistic comments about the Jews, Hungarians and the Roma, they have called for public trials in stadiums across the country, and they have threatened the freedom of the press. In response, the media, trade unions, politicians and establishment figures have been calling on Romania's people to reject the right-wing extremism of Tudor and his party.
Valeriu Stoica of the National Liberal Party (PNL) called on the supporters of his party "to vote against extremism, against Corneliu Vadim Tudor." (Reuters, 4 December 2000).
Hungarian radio called on all Hungarians of Romania to prevent a Tudor victory in the second round of the presidential election.
Prime Minister Mugur Isărescu joined in by condemning statements made by Vice President Anghel Stanciu of the PRM. He said, "I cannot remain indifferent when I find out that in Romania in the year 2000 a political leader is threatening journalists, like in the darkest periods of history." (EvZ, 6 December 2000)
Isărescu was commenting on the statement made by Stanciu in an interview with Agence France Presse. Stanciu had suggested that journalists would be sent to forced labour camps because of the manner in which they had reported the elections.
Reporters Sans Frontiéres (RSF) Secretary-general Robert Menard stated, "We take Mr Anghel Stanciu's comments very seriously. They reveal the nature of this party, which has become the second political force in Romania, and the danger it represents to freedom." (Agence France Presse, 6 December 2000)
President Emil Constantinescu, in his message to the Romanian people on Romania's National Day, set out the options for the country. He asked Romanians if they wanted to live "in a democratic country, such as Romania's neighbours, or in a country which is plundered and isolated, which lacks any material and moral credit from the civilised world." (Nine o'clock, 4 December 2000)
This message was supported by His Beautitude Teoctist, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, who said, "The Church appeals to all the sons of this country, regardless of their faith, that our nation and our country be headed by those who show balance and not by extremists. Romanians should be led with poise into the ranks of the civilised peoples of Europe." (Nine o'clock, 4 December 2000)
The leader of the PRM has indicated that the comments of the Patriarch are directed not against him, but against Iliescu, who Tudor calls atheistic. In the light of all the negative press he is receiving, Tudor has called on all Romanians to ignore anything said or written about him by the media.
If elected President and subsequently he is faced with an antagonistic government or Parliament, Tudor said, "I shall use [my] constitutional prerogative of dissolving the Parliament and calling early elections within six months." (RFE, 7 December 2000)
The run up to the first ballot was marked by a multitude of opinion polls. For the second ballot there is an ominous silence from most pollsters. The few polls that have been published all give a lead to Iliescu.
Parliament—PDSR prepare for government
The final results of the parliamentary elections were published during the week. The Central Election Bureau announced that, in the Senate of 140 seats, PDSR hold 65, PRM—37, PNL—13, Democratic Party (PD)—13 and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR)—12.
These results were reflected in the Chamber of Deputies where of the 327 seats PDSR holds 155, PRM—84, PNL—30, PD—31 and UDMR—27. The Constitution also allows for the representation of minority groups in the Chamber of Deputies. To this end, 18 seats are allocated to minorities, such as the Carpotho-Rusyns' Union in Romania.
At the beginning of the week, negotiations were under way between the PDSR, PNL and PD to try to find a way for the parties to work together—the idea of a supportive opposition being the favoured option. However, these talks had been called off by Thursday, with some commentators suggesting that Iliescu wanted to separate himself and his party from members of what Romanians perceive to be a failed government.
It now seems clear that, if Iliescu gains the presidency, the PDSR will establish a minority government. Adrian Năstase has already been named as Prime Minister-elect and is in the process of preparing nominations for his cabinet. In his proposed cabinet there are four women: Hildegard Puwak (Minister of European Integration), Rodica Stanoiu (Minister of Justice), Ecaterina Andronescu (Minister of Education and Research) and Daniela Bartos (Minister of Health and the Family).
President Constantinescu has issued a decree, which calls for the new Parliament to meet at 15.00 on 11 December 2000.
Warnings from the European Union
The President travelled to Nice, France, to represent Romania at the European Union Summit on Wednesday. The week that began with the EU lifting visa requirements for Bulgaria, while the travel restrictions remained in force for Romania, ended with another warning for Constantinescu in his last few days of office.
The EU is very concerned about the rise of Tudor and his extremist views in Romania. So much so that Yannis Sakellarion, a member of the EU Foreign Affairs Commission, implied that the election of Tudor as President would lead to the immediate suspension of Romania from all admission negotiations.
Monitorul Online carried the headline on Friday 8 December "For the first time after '89, solidarity." The article focused on the unexpected stand made by all elements of Romanian society against the rise of the extreme right.
Young and old, establishment and politicians, civil society and the media, the church and the minorities have all had their say. The country's future now lies in the hands of the Romanian people as a whole, as they go to cast their vote for president in Sunday's second ballot.
- Archive of Romanian news reviews
- Archive of Catherine Lovatt's articles on Romania and Moldova in CER
- 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