December 7, 2009
On Sunday, Romanians have voted in the second round of the presidential elections, which aparently favour Traian Basescu, the current president, by 0.3 % over Mircea Geoana of PSD. (Basescu has claimed victory on 50.33 % of the votes, whereas Mircea Geoana lost with 49.66 %). No wonder the Social Democrats are accusing the president’s party, PDL, of electoral fraud, whilst the OSCE insists on the need to investigate the claims rapidly.
To be sure, by re-electing Basescu the Romanian voters have deepened the political crisis which climaxed in 2007, when the president was forced to stand down for two months pending the results of a referendum whose results helped him return to his job for another two years. A divisive and controversial political figure, Basescu succeeded in attacking or destroying his centre-right political alliance with the liberals, the Liberal Party, the Parliament, the press, the intellectuals, Gypsies, Armenians, women – and the list does not end here.
His re-election strategy focused on doing away with the Romanian Senate, speculating Ceausescu-era nostalgia for the rubber-stamp Great National Assembly of the time. In fact, he tries to deal a fatal blow to the institution that was instrumental in impeaching him in 2007. Basescu’s populist style tries to sandwich his critics between an impoverished, disoriented population and his presidential party, whose unquestioned de facto leader he is. In so doing, he has seriously discredited all the major institutions of the democratic state : justice, parliament, free press and unregimented intellectuals.
I am neither a friend nor a foe of Basescu’s, but I happen to believe that his re-election would prolong and aggravate Romania’s political deadlock. The country is at present without a credible government, many leading politicians refusing to work with the president for resolving the situation. Unfortunately, the entire political class should share the blame for Romania’s lacklustre performance as a new EU member, for bad, non-existent or damaged road and rail infrastructure, for its poor economic showing and the state of its finances or currency. With such handicaps, what Romania did not need now was a cliffhanger election.Florian Pantazi